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What is Lung Cancer?
Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells that start off in one or both lungs; usually in the cells that line the air passages. The abnormal cells do not develop into healthy lung tissue they divide rapidly and form tumors. As tumors become larger and more numerous, they undermine the lung’s ability to provide the bloodstream with oxygen. Tumors that remain in one place and do not appear to spread are known as "benign tumors".
Malignant tumors, the more dangerous ones, spread to other parts of the body either through the bloodstream or the lymphatic system. Metastasis refers to cancer spreading beyond its site of origin to other parts of the body. When cancer spreads it is much harder to treat successfully.
Primary lung cancer originates in the lungs, while secondary lung cancer starts somewhere else in the body, metastasizes, and reaches the lungs. They are considered different types of cancers and are not treated in the same way.
You may not be able to control every situation and its outcome, but you can control your attitude and how you deal with it.
GOD didn't add another day in your life because you needed it, he added it because someone out there needs you.
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.
Dear GOD, if today I lose my hope please remind me that your plans are better than my Dream.....
Symptoms of Lung Cancer
Lung cancer typically doesn't cause signs and symptoms in its earliest stages. Signs and symptoms of lung cancer typically occur only when the disease is advanced. Signs and symptoms of lung cancer may include -
Causes of Lung Cancer
Smoking causes the majority of lung cancers - both in smokers and in people exposed to secondhand smoke. But lung cancer also occurs in people who never smoked and in those who never had prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke. In these cases, there may be no clear cause of lung cancer.
Passive smoking - passive smoking or the inhalation of tobacco smoke by nonsmokers who share living or working quarters with smokers, also is an established risk factor for the development of lung cancer.
Genes - cancer can be the result of a genetic predisposition that is inherited from family members. It is possible to be born with certain genetic mutations or a fault in a gene that makes one statistically more likely to develop cancer later in life. Genetic predispositions are thought to either directly cause lung cancer or greatly increase one's chances of developing lung cancer from exposure to certain environmental factors.
Types of Lung Cancer
There are three main types of lung cancer -
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer - this is the most common type of lung cancer. About 85% of lung cancers are non-small cell lung cancers. Squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma are all subtypes of non-small cell lung cancer.
Small Cell Lung Cancer - small cell lung cancer is also called oat cell cancer. About 10%-15% of lung cancers are small cell lung cancers. This type of lung cancer tends to spread quickly.
Lung Carcinoid Tumor - fewer than 5% of lung cancers are lung carcinoid tumors. They are also sometimes called lung neuroendocrine tumors. Most of these tumors grow slowly and rarely spread.
Stages of Small Cell Lung Cancer
Extensive Stage - the cancer in this stage has spread to different areas of the chest or different parts of the body.
Limited Stage - the cancer in this stage is on one side of the chest that involves only one part of the lung and also surrounding lymph nodes.
Stages of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
Diagnosis of Lung Cancer
Patient History and physical examination - the history and physical examination may reveal the presence of symptoms or signs that are suspicious for lung cancer. In addition to asking about symptoms and risk factors for cancer development such as smoking, doctors may detect signs of breathing difficulties, airway obstruction, or infections in the lungs.
X-Ray Chest - the chest X-ray is the most common first diagnostic step when any new symptoms of lung cancer are present. The chest X-ray procedure often involves a view from the back to the front of the chest as well as a view from the side.
CT (computerized tomography, computerized axial tomography, or CAT) scans - CT scans may be performed on the chest, abdomen, and/or brain to examine for both metastatic and lung tumors. A CT scan of the chest may be ordered when X-rays do not show an abnormality or do not yield sufficient information about the extent or location of a tumor.
MRI scan - Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans may be appropriate when precise detail about a tumor's location is required. The MRI technique uses magnetism, radio waves, and a computer to produce images of body structures.
PET scan - Positron emission tomography (PET) scanning is a specialized imaging technique that uses short-lived radioactive drugs to produce three-dimensional colored images of those substances in the tissues within the body. While CT scans and MRI scans look at anatomical structures, PET scans measure metabolic activity and the function of tissues. PET scans can determine whether a tumor tissue is actively growing and can aid in determining the type of cells within a particular tumor.
Bone scan - Bone scans are used to create images of bones on a computer screen or on film. Doctors may order a bone scan to determine whether a lung cancer has metastasized to the bones.
Sputum cytology - sputum cytology the diagnosis of lung cancer always requires confirmation of malignant cells by a pathologist, even when symptoms and X-ray studies are suspicious for lung cancer. The simplest method to establish the diagnosis is the examination of sputum under a microscope. If a tumor is centrally located and has invaded the airways, this procedure, known as a sputum cytology examination, may allow visualization of tumor cells for diagnosis.
Bronchoscopy - examination of the airways by bronchoscopy (visualizing the airways through a thin, fiberoptic probe inserted through the nose or mouth) may reveal areas of tumor that can be sampled (biopsied) for diagnosis by a pathologist. A tumor in the central areas of the lung or arising from the larger airways is accessible to sampling using this technique.
Needle biopsy - fine needle aspiration (FNA) through the skin, most commonly performed with radiological imaging for guidance, may be useful in retrieving cells for diagnosis from tumor nodules in the lungs. Needle biopsies are particularly useful when the lung tumor is peripherally located in the lung and not accessible to sampling by bronchoscopy.
Thoracentesis - sometimes lung cancers involve the lining tissue of the lungs (pleura) and lead to an accumulation of fluid in the space between the lungs and chest wall (called a pleural effusion).
Blood tests - while routine blood tests alone cannot diagnose lung cancer, they may reveal biochemical or metabolic abnormalities in the body that accompany cancer. For example, elevated levels of calcium or of the enzyme alkaline phosphatase may accompany cancer that is metastatic to the bones. Likewise, elevated levels of certain enzymes normally present within liver cells, including aspartate aminotransferase (AST or SGOT) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT or SGPT), signal liver damage, possibly through the presence of tumor metastatic to the liver.
Lung Cancer Treatment
The treatments for lung cancer depend on the stage of the cancer, personal characteristics, health status, type of the cancer and age. A number of therapies are provided to a patient as there is no single treatment available for lung cancer. Radiation, surgery and chemotherapy are considered as the major lung cancer treatment.
Radiation therapy - radiation therapy uses high-powered energy beams, such as X-rays, to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy can be directed at your lung cancer from outside your body (external beam radiation) or it can be put inside needles, seeds or catheters and placed inside your body near the cancer (brachytherapy).
Radiation therapy can be used after surgery to kill any cancer cells that may remain. It may also be used as the first treatment for lung cancers that can't be removed during surgery. For people with advanced lung cancer, radiation therapy may be used to relieve pain and other symptoms.
For people with lung cancers that are very small, one option may be stereotactic body radiotherapy. This form of radiation aims many beams of radiation from different angles at the lung cancer. Stereotactic body radiotherapy treatment is typically completed in one or a few treatments. In certain cases, it may be used in place of surgery for small tumors.
Surgery - one of the oldest methods for treating lung cancer is surgery. The surgical removal of the tumor and surrounding lymph nodes is done if there is I or II stage cancer that has not metastasized. Palliative or curative are the two types of lung cancer surgeries. Palliative surgery may not remove cancer but can remove an open airway or obstruction that was making the patient uncomfortable. Curative surgery removes all types of cancerous tissue in those patients who are in early stage lung cancer.
Chemotherapy - chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. One or more chemotherapy drugs may be given through a vein in your arm (intravenously) or taken orally. A combination of drugs usually is given in a series of treatments over a period of weeks or months, with breaks in between so that you can recover.
Chemotherapy is often used after surgery to kill any cancer cells that may remain. It may also be used before surgery to shrink cancers and make them easier to remove. In some cases, chemotherapy can be used to relieve pain and other symptoms of advanced cancer.
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions".
"The purpose of our lives is to be happy" - Dalai Lama