Cancer » Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer and is the major cause of the overall cancer-related deaths worldwide. The disease can be cured only if detected in the early phase. Unfortunately, in most of the cases, the cancer is detected at a late stage and thus, the chances of survival decrease considerably.
How the cancer develops in the lungs?
Cancer of the lungs can be either primary or secondary in nature. The primary cancer of the lungs develops mainly in the lungs and spreads to other parts of the body later. Secondary cancer of the lungs is the one in which the origin of cancer is located in areas other than the lungs and reaches the lungs at a later stage.
Cancer of the lungs can be primarily of two distinct types as the small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Small-cell lung cancer is popularly known as oat cell carcinomas. SCLC comprises just 20-25% of the overall cancer cases related to lungs. Smokers are most prone to this disorder and almost 98% of the overall SCLC cases have been detected in smokers. The cancerous cells in SCLC are most aggressive of all types of lung cancers and grow very rapidly.
NSCLC comprises almost 75-80% of the overall cancer cases related to lungs and is the most common lung disorder worldwide. The basic difference between SCLC and NSCLC is the type and pattern of cancerous cells. Also, the tumor cells develop and spread in a different manner and a thorough microscopic observation is necessary to detect the nature of tumor.
NSCLC is of various different types as squamous cell carcinomas, adenocarcinomas, large cell carcinomas and bronchioloalveolar carcinoma. Adenocarcinomas arise in the outer layer of the lungs and are the most common form of NSCLC. Bronchioloalveolar carcinoma is a kind of adenocarcinoma and may develop at multiple points of lungs simultaneously and frequently. It mainly targets the alveolar wall of the lungs. Squamous cell carcinoma is another major type comprising almost 30-35% of the overall NSCLC cases. It arises primarily in the bronchi and is also known as epidermoid carcinomas.
Apart from NSCLC and SCLC, there is another type of cancer known as bronchial carcinoid. This is the only type of cancer occurring in lungs, which is not directly related to smoking. it comprises just 4-5% of the overall cancer cases related to lungs and develops mainly in the people under 40 years of age.
The cancerous cells develop in a specific area of lungs and then metastasize rapidly. The cells normally target the healthy tissues and hamper their pattern of work. The main job of tissues is to carry oxygen and blood to various parts of the body and assist the cell-development process. When the malignant cells invade such tissues, the cell-growth mechanism collapses gradually and the live cells are replaced by tumor cells. The cancerous cells grow and divide uncontrollably and normal cells are not allowed to die out naturally. Thus, the number of unnecessary cells grows rapidly and a tumor is formed. The tumor may also spread to other areas through the lymph nodes or the bloodstream.
General awareness about the cancer in the lungs
Smoking is the most common and the major cause of lung cancer. In almost 80-85% of the cancer cases, smoking has been the main cause of the development of cancerous cells. Tobacco chewing, excess consumption of alcohol, air pollution and exposure to asbestos are some other major causes. Exposure to or consumption of carcinogens play the destructive role of burning tissues and make you more prone to the disease. Victims of human papillomavirus (HPV) are at a higher risk of being a victim to this lung disorder. The disease normally develops in people over 40 years of age. Though the cancer is more common in men, it is the topmost cause of cancer-related deaths in women. Due to certain genetic disorders, few people are prone to the disease by birth and may or may not show any signs of the cancer till it spreads to various parts of the body. Also, family history of the cancer of the lungs can make a person more vulnerable to the disease.
In most of the cases, the cancer in the lungs spreads to brain, liver, bones or the adrenal glands. Hence, the disease may show a variety of symptoms depending upon its nature and intensity and can vary from person to person. Difficulties in breathing and frequent cough are the most common symptoms of lung disorder. Some may also suffer pains in the abdomen, bones or chest. Unexpected weight loss, fatigue and loss of appetite must be consulted with a physician. Problems in swallowing food, frequent headache or frequent infections in the respiratory system need a thorough diagnosis. Lung cancer that reaches the brain may also lead to difficulties in vision. Back pains, pain in the ribs or thighs are also other important symptoms to look for.
The cancer shows the symptoms most common with the other types of disorders like spondylosis, tuberculosis or just a normal bone pain. The tumors formed by the cancer of the lungs can be benign or cancerous. Benign tumors are generally harmless, do not invade tissues and rarely spread to other parts of the body. Hence, you must undergo a thorough medical examination to decide whether the disorder you are facing is a cancer or not. Also, you must consult a physician to know the nature and intensity of the cancer.
Lung cancer can be diagnosed by using magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI scan), computed tomography scan (CT scan), X-rays or biopsy. Mediastinoscopy and bronchoscopy are some other specialized medical tests. Radiation therapy, chemical therapy and surgery are the common forms of recommended treatments. The disease is curable if proper and timely medical check-up is done and the treatment is taken in accordance with an expert medical advice.