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Overview

Lung Cancer - Symptom, Treatment And Causes

What is Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer starts from the lungs and spreads to other body parts. In most cases it starts in the airways of the lungs, known as alveoli and bronchioles. There are over 20 types of lung cancer. The cause of most lung cancers is smoking, both from smoking and passive smoking. People who never smoke are also prone to get it and the cause in such cases isn’t known.

The two major types of lung cancer based on the microscopic appearance are:

  • Small-cell lung cancer: It is the major type of lung cancer and affects smokers exclusively.
  • Non small-cell lung cancer: It is a term for lot of different lung cancer types that have similarities. Large-cell carcinoma, squamous-cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma all come under this category.

Chemotherapy aims at killing cancer cells. Drugs might be administered by a vein, usually in the arm or through the oral route. Multiple drugs are generally given over few months. A surgeon removes the cancer and some part of the adjacent healthy tissue.

Here are the procedures done to obliterate lung cancer:

  • Wedge resection- A small part of the lung that has the tumour with marginal healthy tissue is removed.
  • Segmental resection- A larger part of the lung is removed.
  • Lobectomy- A whole lobe of the lung is removed
  • Pneumonectomy- An entire lung is removed

Radiation therapy employs energy beams obtained from protons and X-rays for killing the cancerous cells. It can be done externally or may be placed within the body close to the affected area through seeds, catheters or needles.Palliative care, a specialty medicine field, involves a doctor’s help to reduce symptoms and signs.

Alternative and complementary lung cancer treatment options are available to reduce symptoms and signs, even though they may not be able to cure cancer:

  • Meditation- It involves focusing on a thing like an image, sound or idea. It helps reduce distress and improves the life quality of cancer patients.
  • Yoga- It includes stretches with meditation and deep breathing. It helps with sleep. An instructor can guide you through the exercises and movements. Don’t do stretches that strain you or feel uncomfortable.
  • Acupuncture- A trained professional puts in tiny needles in specified points in the body during an acupuncture session. It may reduce pain and the side effects of cancer treatment. However, there isn’t any evidence that acupuncture affects the cancer in any way.
Treatable by medical professional Require medical diagnosis Lab test not required Chronic: can last for years or be lifelong Non communicable
Symptoms
It generally doesnt have any symptoms. When the symptoms start appearing , they can be scary like blood in the mucus. Wheezing with chest pain Swollen face and neck Difficulty in swallowing Severe headaches, body pain and fatigue

Popular Health Tips

Effects Of Smoking - How Smoking Affects Your Lungs?

MBBS, DNB - Pulmonary Medicine, Allergy & Sleep Disorders
Pulmonologist, Noida
Effects Of Smoking - How Smoking Affects Your Lungs?

Smoking can have adverse effects on your health that may result in a number of diseases, and also can degrade the overall health condition. Thus, every packet of cigarette comes with the warning “Smoking is injurious to health”. Yet, for those who are habituated to it, it can be extremely difficult to heed the caution and quit.

If you are one of those smokers contemplating quitting, here are some of the compelling reasons to embark on the road to good health immediately. Read on to know about the long-term effects that smoking can have on your lungs:

1. The cleaning of the lungs gets disrupted
Every time you smoke, the harmful chemicals that cigarette contains lead to damaging your breathing and scaring your lungs in some way. As a result of smoking, the cleaning system of the lungs is greatly disrupted. The lungs have ‘Cilia' or broom like hairs that play a crucial role in cleaning the lungs. When you start smoking, the functioning of the cilia starts to slow down, and this goes on for several hours, interfering with the functioning of the lungs.

2. Increases the inflammation as well as irritates
Just like humans age, so do the lungs. With aging, it's very normal for your lungs to not function as effectively as they used to once. However, smoking makes the aging of the lungs faster. Plus, the airways of the lungs also get inflamed and irritated by smoking and as a result become narrower and disrupt the normal air flow.

3. Tissue damage and poor immunity become evident
Smoking not only injures the lung tissues but also causes the immunity power of the lungs to decrease. While on one hand, the damaged tissues lead to decreased blood vessels and air spaces in the lungs, which disrupts the normal oxygen level in the blood, on the other hand, smoking impairs the natural defense power of the lungs, making the lungs more prone to critical lungs condition.

4. It may cause a number of lung conditions
Ranging from asthma, wheezing, to coughs and colds, smoking can lead to serious lungs diseases such as emphysema, breathing issues, breathlessness, pneumonia, chronic bronchitis and even lung cancer. Smoking can also cause the debilitating and progressive disease, COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease to develop.

No matter whether you smoke a pipe or a cigar, as long as they contain cancer-causing chemicals in them, smoking poses a serious threat to your health. 

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

2722 people found this helpful

The Link Between Smoking And Lung Cancer!

MBBS, M.S., MCh - Surgical Oncology
Oncologist, Bangalore
The Link Between Smoking And Lung Cancer!

By far smoking is considered the most common and predictable cause of cancer. Years of study and research has established a link between the two, but what exactly gets smoking to cause cancer, still remains unknown to many people. This article talks about why and how smoking is associated with lung cancer.

How does smoking lead to lung cancer?
Cigarettes contain as many as 60 harmful chemicals such as Benzene, Polonium 210, Nicotine, Hydrogen cyanide, Carbon monoxide, Ammonia, Arsenic etc. which cause damage to the DNA cells including the genes that keep us protected against cancer. These chemicals adversely affect your lungs. The initial symptoms include wheezing and coughing, and can lead to further complications if not paid attention at an early stage.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an inflammatory disease of the lungs which obstructs airflow resulting in respiratory troubles like emphysema and chronic bronchitis. People with COPD find it difficult to breath because of narrowed airways and damaged lung tissues.

How long does it take for smoking to cause lung cancer?
Although the initial symptoms such as a ‘smoker’s cough’ can be dismissed in the early stage, it usually takes a decade or many years of smoking to get your DNA cells damaged. Even though the human body is designed to cope with certain health problems and damage, it becomes difficult for your system to fight the harmful chemicals present in cigarettes and tobacco. Studies show that for every 15 cigarettes you smoke, your DNA undergoes change which can cause a cell to become cancerous.

According to a study by the American Lung Association, almost 80% of lung cancers result from smoking. It is most common among people over 50 years of age who have been smoking for a prolonged time. Further research studies show that life expectancy among current smokers drop by 10 years or more, while those who quit smoking at an early stage manage to survive few more years.

How to prevent lung cancer?
Now that we’ve established the link between smoking and lung cancer, the next big thing would be to prevent the risk of getting affected by it. The most effective way of preventing lung cancer is to stop smoking. Even if you have been smoking for a long time, it is never too late to quit. You may find it hard to resist smoking initially, but do not give up. Consult your doctor, ask for help. He will most likely prescribe you anti-smoking drugs like Zyban and Chantix. One alternative to anti-smoking medication is the Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT). NRT helps reduce the urge for nicotine in your body by giving you a controlled amount of nicotine that is free from any of the harmful chemicals present in cigarettes.

Awareness is the key to prevention. Even if you find it hard to quit smoking, remind yourself why you made a decision to quit, of the long-term effects smoking has on your health, and how it can lead to a life-threatening condition.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

3283 people found this helpful

Radiotherapy - Is It Beneficial For Lung Cancer?

MD - Radiation Oncology, MBBS, Diploma in Tuberculosis and Chest Diseases (DTCD)
Oncologist, Delhi
Radiotherapy - Is It Beneficial For Lung Cancer?

As much as you want to avoid, there are things you have no control over. Lung cancer (Bronchogenic Carcinomas) is one such nemesis that can throw life in shambles. The malignant tumor that originates in the lungs slowly spreads onto the other distinct and vital organs as well. Thought to be mostly affecting men who are chain smokers and into severe tobacco consumption, incidences of lung cancer in women are rising at an alarming rate over the past few years. Non-smokers may also be susceptible (to a lesser extent though) to lung cancer.

Lung cancer can be either

  • Non-small cell lung cancers: The NSCLC, accounting for ~85% of the lung cancer is one of the most common types of lung cancer affecting people, NSCLC may further be divided into
  • Adenocarcinoma: This type of NSCLC originates mostly in the peripheral regions of the lungs and may affect (spread) the lymph nodes. Non-smokers and women are mostly at the receiving end (other than the chain smokers).
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Also known as Epidermoid Carcinoma, often affects men, epidermoid carcinoma may originate in the tissues that line the bronchial tubes. The lymph nodes are often affected by Epidermoid Carcinoma.
  • Large-cell Undifferentiated Carcinoma: The point of origin of large-cell undifferentiated carcinoma is the surface of the lungs. They have a higher probability of spreading to the lymph nodes.
  • Bronchioalveolar Carcinoma: Though rare, bronchioalveolar carcinoma originates close to the air sacs.
  • Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC, accounting for ~25% of the lung cancer): As the name suggests, SCLC is marked by the rapid proliferation of small cells into large malignant tumors. SCLC can move throughout the body (affecting vital organs).

Radiotherapy to treat Lung cancer:
Radiotherapy plays a pivotal role in the treatment of lung cancer. The radiation therapy is mainly of two types

  • External beam radiation therapy (EBRT)
  • Internal radiation therapy (Brachytherapy)

In external beam radiation therapy, high-energy rays are focused on the cancer cells (thereby resulting in the apoptosis of the cancer cells) externally, from outside the body. EBRT is particularly helpful in case of Non-small cell lung cancers.

The EBRT may be of the following types

  • 3D-CRT (Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy): An advanced radiation therapy, 3D-CRT accurately marks the position of the cancer cells (using advanced computers). The treatment ensures minimum damage to the other healthy cells and tissues (energy rays are directed at the affected cells from different positions).
  • SBRT (Stereotactic body radiation therapy): This is a radiation therapy used in the treatment of NSCLC, when it is at a nascent stage.
  • IMRT (Intensity modulated radiation therapy): As the name suggests, in IMRT, the intensity of the radiation reaching the normal tissues and cells can be modulated. Like 3D-CRT, the radiation in IMRT is directed from different angles (for maximum results).
  • Internal radiation therapy (Brachytherapy): This type of radiation therapy is generally used to deal with lung cancers that tend to block the airways. In this therapy, the radiation process is carried out through a narrow tube, thereby, shrinking and collapsing the tumor.

The effect, dosage, and duration of radiation therapy depend on the stage and severity of the condition. In some cases, radiation therapy may be given together with chemotherapy.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

2817 people found this helpful

Early Warning Signs Of Cancer That We Often Ignore!

MBBS, MD(General Medicine), Fellowship Hemato - Oncology (Hemat-Oncology), DM(Medical Oncology), DNB(Medical Oncology)
Oncologist, Kolkata
Early Warning Signs Of Cancer That We Often Ignore!

Cancer has been regarded as one of the most deadly diseases. It is a non-communicable chronic disorder, caused by uncontrolled growth of cells in the human body. Every year over 7 million people succumb to this disease globally and over 12 million people are diagnosed with cancer. Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), estimated that India will observe over 8 lakh deaths and over 17 lakh new cancer cases annually by the year 2020. The survival expectancy of a cancer patient depends upon the stage of diagnosis.

There are some forms of cancer which show any noticeable symptoms only in the final stage while there are certain other subtle symptoms which if paid attention to might save a life.
Some common signs of cancer:

  • Unexplained weight lossThis is one of the earliest noticeable symptoms of cancer and is particularly common in patients of lung and breast cancer. Weight loss has been observed in over 40% of cancer patients at the time of diagnosis. Losing over 10% of body weight in a span of 6 months or less could be a cause of concern.
  • Wheezing: This is associated with lung cancer, which is also the most common form of cancer. When the airway in the lungs is pressed or narrowed by a tumor, it creates a wheezing sound while breathing.
  • Frequent infections: Frequent infections and fever may indicate that something is not right with the internal organs of the body. This could be because of cancerous conditions such as leukemia or lymphoma
  • Loss of appetite: Cancer impacts the metabolic process of the body, hence often leads to a loss of appetite. This is particularly a symptom of colon, stomach, ovaries and pancreatic cancer. 
  • Blood in stool/urine: Traces of blood while passing stool or urine could be a symptom of cancer. Though, this could be attributed to many other infections and conditions as well.
  • Chronic cough: Flu and cough along with symptoms like chest pain, hoarseness, weight loss and fatigue could be because of lung cancer.
  • Night sweats: Though night sweat could be attributed to many more reasons, it is also one of the many early warning signs of cancer.

Cancer symptoms specific to men:

Cancer symptoms specific to women:

Early detection is the key to success in your fight against cancer. So,  if you witness any of the above symptoms get yourself diagnosed at the earliest. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

6019 people found this helpful

Thoracic Ultrasound - What You Can Expect After Undergoing It?

MD - Pulmonary, DTCD
Pulmonologist, Faridabad
Thoracic Ultrasound - What You Can Expect After Undergoing It?

When your doctor suspects of the presence of extra fluid in your lungs, you might be advised for a thoracic ultrasound. What is a thoracic ultrasound and why do you need it? With a thoracic ultrasound, your doctor will be able to look at everything in the thoracic cavity and can know if your lungs, heart, and other structures in the chest are working fine. The pulmonologists can efficiently determine the lung condition even in critically ill patients using a non-invasive ultrasound technique.

And, since the method is based on sound, there is no risk of exposure to potentially harmful ionizing radiation or nephron-toxic contrast dye in this case. Hence, a thoracic ultrasound has become the most preferred technique for conducting a preliminary examination or to further check and confirm a finding noted using other imaging techniques for thoracic diseases.

Reasons to have a chest ultrasound

  • The doctor usually refer an ultrasound when he or she can feel that there is some extra amount of fluid in your chest. The ultrasound can tell the physician the reason behind the deposition of excess liquid.
  • The ultrasound would help detect the type of fluid that is present in the chest, whether it is exudate that is caused due to inflammation, an infection, or lung cancer, or whether it is transudate that is a leakage from the lymph nodes or the blood vessel. It determines the movement of the diaphragm.
  • Chest ultrasound can be done in conjunction with other examinations like CT scan, MRI to evaluate the condition of the chest.
  • It has to be noted that, in certain circumstances such as severe obesity and barium in your esophagus, the procedure can give an inaccurate result. Hence, it is always advisable to talk with the health care provider and share your complete medical history before undergoing this procedure to prevent such occurrences.

After a Thoracic Ultrasound

  • After the results of the ultrasound are received, the doctor can detect what the condition of your chest is at the moment. Your doctor will also confirm if the lungs have collapsed or if there is water in the lungs, or excess fluid has deposited into the lungs.
  • Ultrasound can also reveal if you have pneumonia. A diagnosis like this does not take a long duration, and thus the ultrasound plays a significant role in expediting the treatment process.
  • There are no hard and fast regulations to follow after the ultrasound. The physician may recommend few instructions depending on your situation. In typical cases, there is no special preparation like fasting is required and you need not be sedated during the ultrasound as well.
  • A safe and painless method to detect the condition of the chest and the respiratory organs and the blood flow through the organs in your chest, a thoracic ultrasound is a preferred procedure that can help your doctor to diagnose your condition and decide upon the treatment method.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

3701 people found this helpful

Popular Questions & Answers

My dad s suffering my lung carcinoma stage 3b. His right vocal chord s palsy and not able to talk what is the remedy for it.

MBBS, M.S. General Surgery, M.R.C.S. England, M.Ch. Surgical Oncology, DNB Surgical Oncology, FEBS Surgical Oncology, DNB General Surgery, MNAMS, FMAS, FIAGES, FAIS, FICS, FEBS Breast Surgery, FACS, Fellowship IFHNOS & MSKCC USA, Fellowship in breast and oncplastic Surgery
Oncologist, Mumbai
What is the cause of the cord palsy? Is it an apical mass or a cervical lymph node, which is pressing on the right recurrent nerve? What treatment has been started for the lung cancer? What is the Tumor stage and Nodal stage? If the palsy is due to the tumor or node, then the hoarseness will decrease as the treatment works. Sometimes opposite vocal cord compensates for the palsy and voice improves. If you share his reports of imaging, Biopsy and the treatment started, I would be able to opine better. Feel free to contact me directly if you want to discuss this further.
2 people found this helpful

I had a high blood pressure of 180, and my doctor had found out that there has been a 3 inch tumor on my lungs and my kidney, and recently I had peed a super less blood, but my doctor said that it would not be dangerous but had to check up again whether the tumor is grown or not after 6 months time. Perhaps, I'm afraid it would be a cancer, but based on my research, the most common tumor which can be a cancer is most likely about 7 inch or lesser and the tumor in mine is 3 inch, can this be a signs of cancer? Please would you help! I'm super worry!

MBBS, M.S. General Surgery, M.R.C.S. England, M.Ch. Surgical Oncology, DNB Surgical Oncology, FEBS Surgical Oncology, DNB General Surgery, MNAMS, FMAS, FIAGES, FAIS, FICS, FEBS Breast Surgery, FACS, Fellowship IFHNOS & MSKCC USA, Fellowship in breast and oncplastic Surgery
Oncologist, Mumbai
Tumors can range from subcentimetre to 40 cms. The diagnosis and the stage determines the prognosis. Better to see a cancer surgeon who would guide you. If you want to share reports and discuss further, feel free to contact me directly.
2 people found this helpful

When to go for ct pulmonary angiography? My Echo ecg are normal? What does pulmonary angiography looks for? Can it detect. Lesion and cancer of lungs?

MBBS, AIIMS new delhi , RGUHS,bangalore
Oncologist, Bangalore
Angiography is special CT scan. So lung Lesions can be detected by changing reconstruction algorithm. Needs more information to help you.

Please suggest Which type of alternative therapy is available for advanced forth stage non small cell lung cancer and how can I achieve them?

MBBS, M.S. General Surgery, M.R.C.S. England, M.Ch. Surgical Oncology, DNB Surgical Oncology, FEBS Surgical Oncology, DNB General Surgery, MNAMS, FMAS, FIAGES, FAIS, FICS, FEBS Breast Surgery, FACS, Fellowship IFHNOS & MSKCC USA, Fellowship in breast and oncplastic Surgery
Oncologist, Mumbai
There are many who claim that they can cure cancer with Ayurvedic, unani, homeopathic aswell as Tibetan medicine. If the patient was started on geftinib as per the EGFR report, then I would advise you to continue the same as it has a good chance of response and may be long lasting in a few patients. Alternative medicines may contain steroids, which can suppress cancer for a few days (steroid are a part of chemotherapy in lymphoma) and also give sense of well-being. However if it does not have a long lasting effect and the cancer may come back with a vengeance. If you want to share the details and discuss this further, feel free to contact me directly.

Sir my uncle 52 years old suffering from lung disease report shows malignant pathology on upper lobe of left lung (soft tissue mass) and lymphadenopathy Sir please give me advice about this?

MD - Oncology
Oncologist, Coimbatore
Dear Lybrate user, All your reports need to be reviewed to suggest further plan. Usually the next step is biopsy of the lesion and imaging for staging.

Table of Content

What is Lung Cancer?

The two major types of lung cancer based on the microscopic appearance are:

Here are the procedures done to obliterate lung cancer: