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Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in one or both lungs. These abnormal cells do not carry out the functions of normal lung cells and do not develop into healthy lung tissue. As they grow, the abnormal cells can form tumors and interfere with the functioning of the lung, which provides oxygen to the body via the blood.
Lung cancer is the most common cause of death due to cancer in both men and women throughout the world. According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, approximately one out of every 14 men and women in the U.S. is diagnosed with cancer of the lung at some point in their lifetime. Lung cancer is predominantly a disease of the elderly; almost 70% of people diagnosed with lung cancer are over 65 years of age, while less than 3% of lung cancers occur in people under 45 years of age.
What Causes Lung Cancer?
The development of lung cancer is strongly associated with cigarette smoking, approximately 90% of lung cancers are attributable to use of tobacco. Pipe and cigar smoking can also cause lung cancer, but the risk is not as high as with cigarette smoking. Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemical compounds, many of which are cancer causing (carcinogens). Passive smoking, i.e. the inhalation of tobacco smoke by non-smokers who live or work with smokers, is also an established risk factor for the development of lung cancer.
Genetic susceptibility (i.e. family history) may play a role in the development of lung cancer. Other causes of lung cancer include air pollution (from vehicles, industry, and power generation) and inhalation of asbestos fibres (usually in the workplace).
Lung Cancer Symptoms:
Early symptoms and signs of lung cancer:
There may be no symptoms at the onset of the disease. When present, common symptoms of lung cancer may include:
- Coughing: This includes a persistent cough that doesn't go away or changes to a chronic smoker's cough, such as more coughing or pain.
- Coughing up blood: Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum (spit or phlegm) should always be discussed with your doctor.
- Breathing Difficulties: Shortness of breath, wheezing or noisy breathing (called stridor) may all be signs of lung cancer.
- Loss of Appetite: Many cancers cause changes in appetite, which may lead to unintended weight loss.
- Fatigue: It is common to feel weak or excessively tired.
- Recurring infections: Recurring infections, like bronchitis or pneumonia, may be one of the signs of lung cancer.
Signs of advanced stages of lung cancer: Advanced stages of lung cancer are often characterized by the spread of cancer to distant sites in the body. This may affect the bones, liver or brain. As other parts of the body are affected, new lung cancer symptoms may develop, including:
- Bone pain
- Swelling of the face, arms or neck
- Headaches, dizziness or limbs that become weak or numb
- Lumps in the neck or collar-bone region
Treatment: Treatment for cancer involves a combination of surgery to remove cancer cells, chemotherapy and radiation therapy to kill cancer cells. Lung cancer is incurable unless complete surgical removal of the tumour cells can be achieved. Surgery is the most effective treatment for lung cancer, but only a few percentage of lung cancers are suitable for surgery i.e. Stage I and II NSCLC and cancer that has not spread beyond the lung.
Radiation therapy may be used for both NSCLC and SCLC and is a good option for people who are not suitable for surgery or who refuse surgery. Chemotherapy is used for both NSCLC and SCLC. Chemotherapy drugs may be given alone or in combination with surgery or radiation therapy. Chemotherapy is the treatment of first choice for SCLC since it has usually spread extensively in the body by the time it has been diagnosed.
Also used in the treatment of lung cancer are targeted therapies. These are drugs (gefitinib and erlotinib) or antibodies (cetuximab, bevacizumab) that block the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with specific molecules involved in tumor growth and progression. They are used in some patients with NSCLC that does not respond to standard chemotherapy.
My 5-year-old daughter has asthma. What is the effect of using an asthma preventer long-term? I heard that using it for years might cause bone shrinkage. Is it true?�
I am a 40 year old man. I am feeling some breathing problem. What should be dose for nebulization for me.
I have been suffering from dry cough from 7 days as a result am getting throat pain and headache severely. I have used the tonics Benadryl dry cough syrup and some cold tablets. Still the pain persists. What should I do now?
Arrhythmia is a disorder which is characterized by improper and irregular heartbeats; be it too slow or too fast. This problem occurs when the electrical impulses that are used to regulate your heartbeat don’t work in the correct manner. Your heart may beat irregularly, too slow or too fast.
Although this disorder does not yield many symptoms, a few noticeable symptoms of arrhythmia are slow heartbeat, or a racing heartbeat, chest pain, breathing difficulties and dizziness. Arrhythmia can lead to inefficient pumping by the heart, leading to bouts of fainting. A severe symptom of this disorder is ventricular fibrillation, wherein the ventricles tend to quiver instead of transporting blood. This symptom can cut off blood supply to the vital organs, which may lead to death.
- Coronary artery disease: In this disease, arteries of the heart can get blocked, leading to irregular heart beat and impaired heart functioning.
- A heart attack: An ongoing heart attack usually leads to irregular heartbeats.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure problems make you more vulnerable to this condition.
- Impaired functioning of the thyroid glands: An overactive or underactive thyroid gland can lead to heart arrhythmia.
- Excessive smoking and alcohol consumption: These habits can cause problems with the blood vessels in the body, thus increasing risks of this particular condition as well as other cardio-vascular diseases.
- Stress: Too much stress can lead to high blood pressure; that is again linked to heart arrhythmia.
Mild symptoms of arrhythmia do not require treatment. However, complications resulting from it warrant treatment. The various treatment options for this condition are:
- Pacemaker: A pacemaker is a device that is used to regulate your heart rhythms. It is placed in the body by a surgical procedure and an insulated wire is put, connecting the heart to the pacemaker. In case of an irregular heartbeat, the pacemaker sends out impulses to correct the improper heartbeat.
- Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator: This device is used to prevent a dangerous symptom of heart arrhythmia, a symptom wherein the ventricle quivers. It is similar to a pacemaker as it is also placed near the collarbone. In case it detects an abnormal rhythm, it sends out shocks to reset the heart rhythm.
- Maze procedure: This is a surgical procedure wherein incisions are made on the upper heart tissue to create a scar tissue. Scar tissues act as insulators to prevent stray impulses.
- Alternative therapies: Alternative procedures such as yoga and meditation can help remedy the disorder.