About Lung Cancer Symptoms, Stages, and Treatment

Lung cancer has emerged as the leading killer of men and women stricken with invasive cancer, affecting husbands and wives, friends and neighbors, and causing suffering for many families. In the United States, lung cancer overtook breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer deaths in women in 1987. It deaths account for a quarter of all American cancer deaths, killing more people every year than prostate, breast, and colon cancer combined. Over 157,000 Americans are estimated to have died from this in 2015.

This disease is difficult to detect in its early stages, and treatments for this in its later stages provide a poor prognosis: Those with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer—the most common type—have about 1 percent survival rate five years after diagnosis. The other type of lung cancer small cell. It is even more aggressive. According to the American Cancer Society, the overall survival rate for this as of Jan. 1, 2014 stands at just 3%.

What Causes Lung Cancer?

The exact cause of lung cancer is still being investigated. They have shown certain risk factors to play a part in causing cells to become cancerous. Risk factors for cancer include smoking, exposure to air pollution, and genetics.

Does Smoking Cause Lung Cancer?

The major cause of this cancer in men and women is mainly because of cigarette smoking. In 1876, the machine was invented to make rolled-up cigarettes and thus provided cheap tobacco products to almost everyone. Smoking dramatically increased and so did lung cancers following this innovation. Currently, about 90% of all lung cancers are related to smoking. Radon gas, pollution, toxins, and other factors contribute to the remaining 10%.

Cigarettes and cigarette smoke contain over 70 cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens). Some carcinogens found in cigarette smoke include:

  • Lead (a highly poisonous metal)
  • Arsenic (an insecticide)
  • Cadmium (a battery component)
  • Isoprene (used to make synthetic rubber)
  • Benzene (a gasoline additive)
  • Cigar smoke is heavy on tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs), which are consider cancerous.

Lung Cancer and Cilia

Cigarette smoke damages and can kill hair-like projections on airway cells termed cilia. The cilia normally sweep out toxins, carcinogens, viruses, and bacteria. When the cilia damage or destroy by smoke, these items may accumulate in the lungs and may cause problems such as infections or lung cancer.

Symptoms Of Lung Cancer 

Unfortunately, lung cancers often have either no early signs or nonspecific early symptoms that people often dismiss. About 25% of people with this and no symptoms are diagnosed after having a chest X-ray, CT during a routine test, or as a procedure for other problems. It includes lung cancer symptoms that can detect below.

List of Lung Cancer Symptoms

  • Cough (chronic, recurrent)
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Coughing up phlegm that contains blood
  • Chest pain
  • Three Common Lung Cancer Screening Methods
  • They usually accomplish screening for it using three methods.

Physical Exam

A physical exam will look for signs of wheezing, shortness of breath, cough, pain and other signs of lung cancer. Depending on the advancement of cancer, other early signs of lung cancer symptoms may include a lack of sweating, dilated neck veins, face swelling, excessively constricted pupils, and other signs. The physical exam will also include the patient’s history of smoking and a chest X-ray.

Spiral CT Exam

This method of CT scanning builds a detailed image of the body’s internal workings. Inside a spiral CT machine, it takes detailed images of the relevant parts of the patient’s body. It then links those images to an X-ray machine to create 3D images of the patient’s internal organs. These images may reveal potentially cancerous tumors.

A study by researchers suggested that people aged 55 to 74 years old who had smoked at least one pack of cigarettes a day for 30 or more years may enjoy a spiral CT study of the lungs. The screening methods find about 30% of lung cancers leaving the bulk (about 70%) cancers of the lung undetected. In addition, some test results are not diagnostic, which can lead to patient concerns and possibly unnecessary biopsies or surgeries.

Diagnosis of Lung Cancer

If the screening tests suggest a person has lung cancer, a pathologist may do definitive diagnostic tests. The pathologist will examine the patient’s lung cells in sputum, phlegm, or from a biopsy sample to type and stage.

Lung Cancer: Biopsy

As stated previously, a tissue sample taken from the patient’s suspected cancer is usually the best method to establish a definitive lung cancer diagnosis. Lung biopsies got by either needle biopsy, a lung bronchoscopy technique, or surgical removal of tissue. They may do many other tests to get more information about cancer’s spread.

See the following slides for types of lung cancer and there stages, including stage IV cancer.

Types of Lung Cancer

There are only two major types of lung cancers: small cell cancer and non-small cell lung cancers. Less than 5% of lung tumors will take the form of a carcinoid tumor, while other cancerous tumors are even more rare, including adenoid cystic carcinomas, lymphomas, and sarcomas. Although cancer from another part of the body may spread to the lungs, they do not categorize as cancer.

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Non-small cell lung cancers are the most common type of this cancer. These cancers account for about 90% of all cancers and are less aggressive than small cell lung, meaning they spread to other tissues and organs more slowly.

what is Small Cell Lung Cancer

Small cell lung, also called oat cell lung cancer, accounts for about 10% of all lung cancers. This form of cancer spreads quickly.

Stages of Lung Cancer: Stage 0 Through Stage 4

After lung cancer is determined, it assigns the lung type of cancer stage. The stage shows how much cancer has spread in the body (for example, to the lymph nodes or two distant organs like the brain). Stages for non-small cell lung differ from small cell lung cancers. It takes the stages listed below from the National Cancer Institute’s lung cancer staging information:

Small Cell Lung Cancer Stages

Limited stage: In this form, small cell lung cancer is limited to one side of the chest, typically in the lungs and lymph nodes. About one in three people with small cell lung cancer have limited stage cancer upon the first diagnosis.

Extensive stage: This refers to small cell lung cancer that has spread throughout one lung, spread into both lungs, to lymph nodes on the other side of the chest or two other body parts. About two in three people with small cell lung cancer have extensive stage cancer upon the first diagnosis.

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Stages

Occult (hidden) stage: In this stage, cancer cells appear in a sputum cytology exam or another test, though no tumor location can be found.

Stage 0 (carcinoma in situ): In this lung cancer stage, cancer cells show only in the top layer of cells lining air passages and have not crept deeper into the lungs or spread beyond the air passages.

Stage I: A small lung cancer tumor (less than 3 centimeters across) is discovered, but has not spread to surrounding lung membranes, lymph nodes, or the main bronchial branches of the lungs.

Stage II: There are several ways that stage II lung cancer can diagnose. One is that lung cancer has spread to lymph nodes near the lungs.

Stage IIA: If the tumor is between 3 centimeters and 5 centimeters, it defines lung cancer as stage IIA. Other factors can lead to this classification.

Stage IIB: If the lung cancer tumor is between 5 centimeters and 7 centimeters, they categorize it as stage IIB. Other factors can lead to this classification.

Stage III: As in stage II lung cancer, stage III has several definitions. One is that lung cancer is found in both the lung and lymph nodes in the middle of the chest. It divides stage III lung cancer into two subsets.

Stage IIIA: This defines a lung cancer that has spread on the same side of the chest from where it started.

Stage IIIB: This defines a lung cancer in which cancer has spread to either the opposite side of the chest or above the collarbone.

Stage IV: This is the most advanced stage of lung cancer. Cancer can be any size, but two of these three things have happened:

Cancer has spread to the opposite lung from where it began.

it have discovered cancer cells in the fluid surrounding the lung.

We have discovered cancer cells in the fluid surrounding the heart.

Lung Cancer Survival Rates

The American Cancer Society statistics are currently based on people diagnosed between 1998 and 2000, so the data may not reflect the effects of newer treatments. The data shows that survival rates of patients living 5 years after being diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancers was dependent on the stage of the disease.

Stage I was about 49% (with surgical removal, about 75%) while stage IV survival was about 1%. Small cell lung cancers are more aggressive and the data, like that for non-small cell lung cancers, are not reflective of current survival rates.

However, even some data collected as late as 2008 show slow progress in increasing 5-year survival rates. The overall rate of both limited-stage and extensive-stage small cell lung is about 6%. The overall rate of all stages (I to IV combined) non-small cell lung is about 15%.

Early Stage Lung Cancer Treatment: Surgery

Early stage (stage 0 or even some stage I) cancer treatment of non-small cell lung cancer may enjoy surgery. It may remove part or all of a lung segment that contains; in some individuals, this may cause a cure. However, many patients still undergo chemotherapy, radiation therapy or both to kill any cancer cells not removed by surgery. Because small cell lung cancers are almost never diagnosed early, surgery (and other treatments) may prolong life but rarely, if ever, result in a cure.

Advanced Lung Cancer Treatment

Most small cells and non-small-cell lungs are treated with chemotherapy;We may also treat them with radiation therapy and surgery. In many patients with advanced disease, they can use these methods, depending on the patient’s condition and recommendations by their cancer doctors.

Targeted therapies for cancer

New therapeutic treatments are being tried; for example, some therapies termed it designs targeted therapies to prevent or stop lung cancer cells from growing by targeting the new blood vessels that are needed to allow the cancer cells to survive and grow.

Other treatments target growth and multiplication of lung cancer cells by interfering with chemical signals required by growing or multiplying cancer cells (illustrated in this slide).

Clinical Trials for Lung Cancer

Besides targeted therapies, there are several clinical trials that a person may qualify for. Some may be available in your hometown. These clinical trials have patients try the newest potentially helpful therapeutic methods and drugs to combat cancers.

The National Cancer Institute’s website listed below offers a list of current clinical trials; you and your doctor may find a clinical trial that may help you with this disease.

Life after Lung Diagnosis

After a diagnosis of cancer, it is not unusual to feel depressed and upset. However, research is ongoing, and it is possible to survive and extend your life with treatment. Even with the diagnosis, there is evidence that people who develop a healthy lifestyle and stop smoking well than those who do not change.

Lung Cancer Prevention

For most cancers, prevention is possible if a person never smokes and avoids second-hand smoke. For smokers who quit — within 10 years — the risk of getting cancer drops to about the same risk as if they had never smoked.

Avoiding other risk factors (for example, certain chemicals or compounds like benzene or asbestos or air pollution) may also prevent some people from developing cancers.

Additional Information on Lung Cancer

  • For more information about lung cancer, please consider:
  • American Cancer Society
  • National Cancer Institute
  • org
  • American Lung Association
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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