Lung cancer is one of the most deadliest diseases known to man. Based on the intensity, lung cancer is segregated into small cell and non-small cell cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer treatment depends on the stage at which the cancer is detected.
Cancer is a type of disease which is caused due to the abnormal growth and multiplication of cells in the body. In various types of cancer, this abnormal multiplication of cells results in the growth of tumor (which are masses of diseased cells) in any part of the body. One type of cancer is the lung cancer, which affects either or both the lungs. There are two types of lung cancer – small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the malignant type of lung cancer, which can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated on time. This common type of lung cancer affects most of the individuals. Though lung cancer affects both men and women, it has been observed that men are more prone to this deadly disease than women, the main reason being smoking. As in case of all cancers, lung cancer can also be treated with ease, if detected in its initial stages. But if the cancer has metastasized and spread to other organs, then treating this condition can be a bit tough.
Causes of Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is very common since the lungs are exposed more to the external environment as compared to other organs in the body. In most of the cases, harmful carcinogens are inhaled through contaminated air and enter the body through the lungs. These carcinogens can destroy the lung tissues and develop into cancer. Given below are some of the common causes of lung cancer.
- Smoking, both active and passive smoking (also known as secondhand smoking).
- Drinking water polluted with arsenic.
- High levels of air pollution.
- Working with carcinogenic materials like asbestos, lead and certain alloys. Lung cancer is also an occupational hazard.
Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer
Unfortunately lung cancer is very difficult to be detected during the early stages, since the early signs of lung cancer exhibited are quite vague. The signs of lung cancer in women and men are quite similar.
- The early symptoms of lung cancer is coughing, which does not go away even after a considerable period of time. Some of the individuals may even cough up blood.
- The early signs of lung cancer in women are chest pain, accompanied by breathlessness.
- Fluid in lungs is also one of the early signs of lung cancer. This can lead to chest congestion and wheezing.
- Some other symptoms include difficulty in swallowing, burning sensation in the throat and chest region, loss of appetite, unexpected weight loss and generalized body weakness.
Treatment Methods for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
There are four different stages of lung cancer and the treatment options for lung cancer may vary accordingly. Before administering treatment, the doctor may perform a series of tests on the patient to diagnose the exact condition and the stage of the cancer. The doctor may also check if the cancer has spread to other organs of the body. The patient may have to undergo a chest X-ray, bone scan, sputum test and MRI and CT scan of the chest.
Once the diagnosis is done, the doctor may provide appropriate treatment and drugs for the cancer. In initial stages of the symptoms, the patient may have to undergo surgery, where the affected part of the lung is removed. Sometimes a lobe of the lungs is also surgically removed (lobectomy), to curb the disease from spreading. In case of severity the patient may have to undergo pneumonectomy, where the entire affected lung is removed. Post surgery, the patient may undergo chemotherapy and radiation therapy, to destroy the cancerous cells, if present in the body. Sometimes acupuncture, meditation and massage techniques are administered to the patient who is struggling to cope with the lung cancer treatment and side effects of the same.
Thanks to modern medicine and the use of technology, the life expectancy of patients suffering from lung cancer has been increased. However, non-small cell lung cancer survival rate mainly depends on the stage in which the cancer was diagnosed, and the patient’s response to the treatment.