Lung cancer is believed to be the deadliest cancer in the world as the rate associated with it is pretty high. It is absolutely essential that the symptoms of this disease are not taken lightly and a chest specialist in Lahore or your city is visited as soon as possible.
This article provides you with an overview of the disease, its stages, causes, symptoms, diagnosis, as well as available treatment options.
Stages of Lung Cancer
The stages of cancer tell doctors the extent to which the cancer has metastasized. The chance of successful treatment is much higher when lung cancer, like any other form of cancer, lung cancer is diagnosed and treated in the early stages. However, as this deadly disease does not show visible symptoms in the earlier stages, diagnosis is often hard and comes after the spread of the illness.
The most common types of this dangerous disease are non-small lung cancer (NSCLC) and Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC).
Non-small cell lung cancer has four main stages:
- Stage 1: Cancer is found in the lung, but it has not spread outside the lung.
- Stage 2: Cancer is found in the lung and nearby lymph nodes.
- Stage 3: Cancer is in the lung and lymph nodes in the middle of the chest.
- Stage 3A: Cancer is found in lymph nodes, but only on the same side of the chest where cancer first started growing.
- Stage 3B: Cancer has spread to lymph nodes on the opposite side of the chest or to lymph nodes above the collarbone.
- Stage 4: Cancer has spread to both lungs, into the area around the lungs, or to distant organs.
Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) has two main stages. In the limited stage, cancer is found in only one lung or nearby lymph nodes on the same side of the chest.
In the extensive stage however, the cancer has spread throughout one lung, to the opposite lung, to lymph nodes on the opposite side, to fluid around the lung, to bone marrow, and to distant organs
According to research, at the time of diagnosis, 2 out of 3 people with SCLC are already in the extensive stage.
Some of the most common symptoms of lung cancer include the following:
- A new cough that does not go away
- Coughing up blood
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Losing weight without trying
- Bone pain
- Weakness or fatigue
Common causes of this dangerous form of cancer include the following:
- Exposure to Radon
- Breathing in Hazardous Substances
Specific tests are conducted after a physical examination including imaging tests such as X-rays, MRIs, CT scans and PET scans. These scans show the growth of any abnormal. On the other hand, sputum cytology is used to examining the sputum for the determination of any cancer cells.
Furthermore, a biopsy can determine if the tumor cells are cancerous. The types of biopsies conducted include:
- Bronchoscopy: While under sedation, a lighted tube is passed down the throat and into the lungs, allowing closer examination.
- Mediastinoscopy: The doctor makes an incision at the base of the neck. A lighted instrument is inserted and surgical tools are used to take samples from lymph nodes. Mediastinoscopy is usually performed in a hospital under general anesthesia.
- Needle: Using imaging tests as a guide, a needle is inserted through the chest wall and into the suspicious lung tissue. Needle biopsy can also be used to test lymph nodes.
Tissue samples are then sent to a pathologist for analysis. If the result is positive for cancer, further testing, such as a bone scan, can help determine if cancer has spread and to help with staging. For this test, a radioactive chemical is injected in the bloodstream. Abnormal areas of bone will then be highlighted on the images. MRI, CT, and PET scan are also used for staging.
Treatment for this deadly disease varies from person to person depending on the health conditions. In case of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), options for treatment based on the stage of cancer are the following:
Stage 1 NSCLC: Surgery to remove a portion of the lung may be sufficient. Chemotherapy may also be recommended, especially if there is a high risk of recurrence.
Stage 2 NSCLC: Surgery may be needed to remove a part of or the entire lung. Chemotherapy is usually recommended.
Stage 3 NSCLC: A combination of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation treatment may be required.
Stage 4 NSCLC: This stage is particularly hard to cure. Options include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy.
In case of small cell-lung cancer (NSCLC), options may also include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. In most cases however, the cancer will be too advanced for surgery.
Late detection of the disease makes lung cancer the most dangerous cancer in the world. Therefore if you or anyone you know is suffering from the symptoms of lung cancer, please do consult a chest specialist in Karachi at your earliest.