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All You Need to Know About Lung Cancer - Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

Last Updated: Oct 14, 2021

What Does it Mean to be Lung Cancer ?

Generally, the body cells die at a certain point in their life cycle to avoid excessive growth. But, cancer disease overrides this condition, and causes cells to replicate faster. This overgrowth of cells leads to various cancers and it depends on the organs where they overgrow. When such cells’ growth occurs in the lung, it is called lung cancer. The Lung is a vital organ for respiration. It is a prevailing condition and leading to many deaths in the United States of America.

When compared to colon, breast and prostate cancer, lung cancer is highly common in men and women. There are two types of lung cancer namely small and non-small cell and they are diagnosed based on how they appear under the microscope. Non-small cell lung cancer is more common than the small-cell type. Cigarette smoking, exposure to smokes, and chemicals increase the risk of it.

Can you survive Lung Cancer?

The survival in the case of Lung Cancer usually depends upon the type and cause of cancer as well as the severity of the disease. There is a 5 years survival rate in Lung Cancer and it varies in both men and women. In men, it is 17% while in women it is 24% and the overall survival rate is 21%. With the advancement in the medical treatment therapies such as targeted treatments and immunotherapies, it has become possible to survive longer in the case of Lung Cancer, even in advanced cases.

What are the 4 types of Lung Cancer?

Lung Cancer has been a leading cause of death in the world till now. There may be several types of Lung Cancer which are described as follows:

  1. Adenocarcinoma: It affects younger age groups mostly and occurs in women more than men. It is less fatal as compared to others.
  2. Squamous cell carcinoma: Usually occurs in people who have the habit of smoking.
  3. Large cell carcinoma: It is the most deadly form of Lung Cancer.
  4. Sarcomatoid carcinoma: This a less common form of the cancer.

How Do You Know if You have Lung Cancer?

  • Shortness of breath: This is medically termed as “Dyspnea” which would be experienced at the later stages of the disease. When the tumor obstructs the airway, this problem arises.
  • Chest pain: When the it spreads to the chest wall or causes swollen lymph nodes, it induces pain in the shoulders, chest or back. Chest pain worsens when you laugh, cough or breathe deeply.
  • Cough with blood: When you see the blood while coughing or rust colored phlegm with no cause, it shows an indication of it.
  • Hoarse voice: If you find changes in your voice for more than two weeks, it may be a sign of lung cancer. This symptom starts when the tumor affects the nerve that controls the voice box.
  • Bone pain, weight loss, headaches, wheezing, fatigue, vision problems are other signs and symptoms of lung cancer.

Can you have Lung Cancer for years and not know it?

Lung Cancer in its early stages is generally asymptomatic and this is one of the reasons for the high mortality in the case of Lung Cancer. People usually get diagnosed at stage three or four when cancer has already been spread in the body and reached its advanced stage. Symptoms do not occur at early stages or may not be noticed even if they occur.

Cases such as squamous cell carcinoma, remain undiagnosed for about 8 years or so and reach the stage of metastasis. Due to the delayed diagnosis and treatment, there is a poor prognosis of the treatment.

How long can Lung Cancer go undetected?

According to the research done by the world’s scientists, it has been proven that Lung Cancer can remain dormant or asymptomatic in a person’s body for a period of over 20 years. It generally gets diagnosed in its advanced stage known as the malignant stage. Prognosis is usually poor in such stages and the disease has already reached its deadly form.

What Can Cause Lung Cancer?

  • Smoking cigarettes: This is the biggest risk factor for lung cancer. When you use tobacco in other forms, it will lead to the risk of developing lung cancer and other types such as the mouth and esophageal cancer. Cannabis is also a risk factor.
  • Breathing Radon: This is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes from smaller amounts of uranium present in all soils and rocks. While breathing radon, it can damage the lungs; particularly it affects a passive smoker.
  • Pollution and occupational exposure: In several occupations, many chemicals and substances are used which have a higher risk of developing lung cancer and these chemicals are asbestos, cadmium, coal, arsenic, nickel and silica. Air pollution from vehicles, power plants, and prolonged exposure to highly polluted air increases the risk of it.
  • Hereditary: It is also noticed genetically from both smoking and non-smoking families.

Can you die suddenly from Lung Cancer?

Complications due to Lung Cancer as well its dissemination may be a reason for the sudden death. In case when Lung Cancer invades the surrounding sheath of the heart i.e pericardium, it leads to serious complications.

Bleeding occurs between the heart and the pericardium sheath which compresses the heart to that much extent causing sudden and immediate death. Invasion of Lung Cancer to the liver as well as the nervous system in some cases is also fatal and leads to death.


What Precautions Should be Taken in Lung Cancer?

  • Hereditary: It is also noticed genetically from both smoking and non-smoking families.
  • Though quitting smoking is difficult, but still, many people have come out successfully. The addiction is because of the presence of nicotine. Check out with your doctor to know more tips.
  • Check out radon level at your home using many economic kits available in the hardware stores to measure it.
  • Doing a moderate amount of exercise prevents lung cancer. Involving in gardening work for at least twice a week lessens the chances of developing lung cancer.
  • Drinking green tea prevents the cells from damage due to smoking.

  • Eating fruits and rainbow color vegetables reduce the risk of it.

  • Avoid beta-carotene supplements that increase risk factors in smokers.

How Do You Diagnose Lung Cancer?

If your routine physical examination reveals symptoms such as weak breathing, weakness in one arm, abnormal sounds in the lungs, swollen lymph nodes above the collar bone, expanded veins in the neck, arm and chest, droopy eyelids, he may suspect that it may be lung cancer.

Firstly, X-ray will be advised and if nothing is seen, secondly Ultrasound, CT, MRI, Bone Scan and PET scan will be advised. Lung biopsy, bronchoscopy, mediastinoscopy, thoracoscopy, thoracentesis, video-assisted thoracic surgery, sputum test, molecular tissue test, and pulmonary function test along with arterial blood tests are advised to confirm lung cancer and its stage.

What is the Treatment of Lung Cancer?

The doctor will decide the treatment plan based on the stage, age, general health, whether you have a metastatic stage, and your preferences. Surgery will be the best option for non-small cell lung cancer. Radiation and chemotherapy will be advised after the surgery. Radiofrequency ablation is an alternative for surgery.

Targeted treatment using drugs like Avastin, Tarceva. Lorbrena, Tagrisso, Zykadia, Alecensa are recommended to control cancer that has already spread. Immunotherapy drugs like atezolizumab, durvalumab, nivolumab and pembrolizumab are prescribed as they use the bodys' own cells to attack cancer cells. Sunscreen, Aloe Vera, Vitamin E are prescribed for home care..

What are the Home Remedies for Lung Cancer?

Some of the possible home remedies which can help in providing a supportive care during lung cancer are as follows:

  • Nausea and vomiting will be due to the post-treatment and due to dehydration the symptoms will be more. To control the symptoms, IV fluid is a must.
  • To treat Lung cancer, eat a small amount of low fibre foods frequently, drink plenty of fluids, avoid raw veggies and fruits, stop eating cabbage, carbonated drinks, fried and fatty foods, strong spices.
  • Constipation due to chemotherapy can be managed by eating high fiber foods, vegetables, fruits, drink plenty of water and juices, do regular exercises.
  • To treat dry mouth, rinse the mouth with water and you can add salt or baking soda, apply lip moisturizer, and sleep at the cool room.

What Should be Eaten in Lung Cancer?

The patients should pay special attention to food and they are as follows:

  • Apples and pears that contain phloretin that is well-known for anti-tumor activities.
  • Presence of Vitamin D in Fatty Fish helps in deterring the growth of lung cancer
  • Curcumin in Turmeric has the property to stop the lung cancer cells growth
  • Ginger prevents the spread of cancer and controls symptoms

  • Anthocyanidins present in blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and cranberries have the tendency to inhibit the growth of it.

  • Cinnamon’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties help in treating lung cancer before and after treatments.

Summary: Lung Cancer is a fatal disease of the lungs that has been a leading cause of death in the world till now. The various types include Adenocarcinoma, Squamous cell carcinoma, large cell carcinoma, and Sarcamatoid carcinoma. Complications due to this condition as well its dissemination may be a reason for the sudden death. Invasion of Lung Cancer to the liver, heart as well as the nervous system in some cases is also fatal and leads to death. The survival rate is 5 years usually and the prognosis is poor.


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Written ByDr. Jagdish Shinde MD - Radiothrapy,MBBSOncology
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