Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of death associated with cancer. It can be described as cancer that originates in the form of abnormal cell division in the lungs. Lung cancer is considered very dangerous as it metastasize very quickly and can spread to all the other organs of the body. The brain, liver, bones and adrenal glands are at the highest risk of lung cancer metastasize. Malignant tumors from other parts of the body may also affect the lungs. In that case, it is not termed as lung cancer rather it is known as a metastatic form of cancer.
Smoking increases a person’s risk of lung cancer significantly. Passive smoking can also increase the risk of lung cancer. This is because tobacco smoke contains a number of carcinogenic chemicals. Exposure to asbestos fiber, diesel exhaust, and radon gas can also contribute towards the development of lung cancer. Lung diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Pulmonary fibrosis also increase a person’s risk of lung cancer.
Lung cancer can be broadly classified as small cell lung cancers (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) based on where the tumor cells originate. SCLC is less common as compared to NSCLC but is more aggressive. This is typically seen in the case of heavy smokers. SCLC metastasizes rapidly and is often diagnosed only after it has spread to the other organs.
In many cases, a patient may not exhibit any symptoms associated with lung cancer. Common symptoms showcased include difficulty breathing, coughing, shortness of breath, pain in the chest, wheezing, shoulder pain, difficulty swallowing, and hoarseness.
Treatment of lung cancer depends largely on the stage at which it is diagnosed. In stage I, the cancer is restricted to the lungs. In stage II and III, the cancer cells can be found in other parts of the chest cavity as well. In stage IV, the cells can be seen in other organs of the body. The earlier cancer treatment is started, the more effective it is. Other factors that influence the ideal form of treatment include the patient’s age, overall health, and financial state. Treatment usually involves the surgical removal of tumors, chemotherapy, radiation or a combination of treatment techniques. Targeted drugs and immunotherapy may also be used. The prognosis for this type of cancer depends on where the cancer cells are located, the type of lung cancer, the size of the tumor, and the patient’s overall health.