Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer is one of the most common cancer amongst men in India, after head and neck cancers which are common in both sexes.

Lung, a part of the respiratory system helps us to breathe. Lungs are a pair of sponge like cone shaped organ in the chest cavity. The right lung has 3 sections called lobes, it is larger than the left lung which has only 2 lobes. When we breathe in, the lung takes in oxygen and when we breathe out, carbon-di-oxide which is a waste product of the body is expelled.

What is Lung Cancer?

Cancer is an unwanted purposeless and unchecked growth of any body tissue, with a capability of spreading to other areas. Cancer that begins in the lung is called lung cancer. There are four major types of lung cancer, which fall under 2 broad groups.

Small Cell Lung Cancer or Oat cell cancer (less common).

Non Small Cell Lung Cancer (more common).

Squamous cell (Epidermoid Cancer).

Adeno-carcinoma.

Large cell carcinoma.

Who is at risk ?

Researchers have discovered several causes for lung cancer, most are related to the use of tobacco. Smoking of Cigarettes; Biddies; Cigars; and Pipe. Harmful substances (carcinogens) in tobacco damage cells in the lungs, the damaged cells may become cancerous. Over a period of time stopping smoking greatly reduces a person’s risk from developing lung cancer. Environmental Tobacco Smoke or passive smoking also increases the chance of developing lung cancer.

Asbestos – Asbestos is the name of a group of minerals that occur naturally as fibers and are used in certain industries. Asbestos fibers tend to break easily into particles that can float in the air. When these particles are inhaled, they can lodge in the lungs, damaging cells and increasing the risk of lung cancer. Radon – Radon is an invisible, odourless and tasteless radioactive gas that occurs naturally in soil and rocks. It can cause damage to the lungs and may cause lung cancer. People who work in mines may be exposed to radon. Pollution – Researchers have found a link between lung cancer and exposure to certain air pollutants, such as bye-products of the combustion of diesel and other fossil fuels.

Lung Diseases – Certain lung diseases, such as tuberculosis (TB), increase a person’s chance of developing lung cancer. Lung Cancer tends to develop in areas of the lung that are scarred from TB. Personal Medical and Family History – A person who has had lung cancer once is more likely to develop a second lung cancer compared to a person who never had lung cancer. Brothers, sisters and children of those who have had lung cancer have a slightly higher risk of lung cancer. However, it is difficult to say how much of this excess risk is due to inherited factors and how much is due to passive smoking.

Other Exposures – People with lung diseases caused by breathing in certain chemicals like Saw Dust , Silicon and Barium also have an increased risk of Lung cancer.

Researches continue to study the causes of lung cancer and try to find ways to prevent it. We already know that the best way to prevent lung cancer is to quit (or never start) smoking.

What are the symptoms of Lung Cancer?

Unexplained chronic cough.

Repeated attacks of lung infection.

Breathlessness, wheezing hoarseness.

Sputum mixed with blood.

Constant chest pain.

Loss of appetite or weight loss.

Fatigue.

Treating Non Small Cell Lung Cancer:

Patients with Non Small Cell Lung Cancer may be treated in several ways. The choice of treatment depends mainly on the extent of the disease. Surgery is the most common way to treat this type of lung cancer. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy may also be used to slow the progress of the disease and to manage symptoms.