Lung cancer is a carcinoma that develops in the epithelial cells that form the
interior lining to the lungs.The airways get the most exposure to inhaled
pollutants, thus most people who get lung cancer are smokers. Lung cancer is not
just one disease. There are many types of cancer that form in the lungs most of
which you can only see through a microscope.
The most common cancer of the lungs is epidermoid. It is also known as
squamous carcinoma because its cells look like a flat surface called a squamous cell.
This cancer produces keratin, a substance found in skin and hair, which can be seen
in a tumor. Squamous carcinoma is more common in smokers because it develops
in the bronchi and spreads by invading local tissues, than to the lymph nodes and
into the blood.
Large - cell carcinoma is a tumor that is fairly larger than other types. They
dont form keratin but they are common in smokers. They develop in the central or
peripheral part of the lungs and the lymph glands.
Small cell carcinoma tumors are small and fragile. They are divided into
groups by their shapes. The term oat cell carcinoma is used to develop in
smokers and usually in the central part of the lung. They spread by the lymph
glands and into the blood stream early. This type of tumors can only be seen
through an electron microscope on high magnification. A rare type of lung cancer,
which develops from hormone producing cells are carcinoid tumors. They have a
much less malignant course than small cell carcinoma.
Lung cancer has been blamed on many factors but the most important is
smoking. Smoking is the main cause of lung cancer. The more often and longer a
person smokes increases there chances of lung cancer. Cigarettes are supposed to
relieve stress and depression, thirst and hunger. In reality they are only killing
inside of you although you cant see it. Many people who have smoked for years
figure the damage is already done so why quit. The risk of death from lung cancer
is related to the number of smoked cigarettes per day and the age the smoker
started. There is only a small risk for non smokers to develop lung cancer.
Although there is a risk of people who are around a lot of smokers from second
It has been suggested that the association between smoking and lung cancer is
genetic rather than casual. Genetic influences may determine which smokers are
more likely to develop lung cancer. Only a minority of smokers who develop lung
cancer do so by inheritance. That alone makes them more suseptable to the cancer
causing agents in cigarette smoke.
Another cause of lung cancer is air pollution. Coal smoke appears to be
increased in the risk of lung cancer but its effects are small compared to that of
smoking. People who work in industries and that are exposed to asbestos dust,
nickel, arsenic, radioactive materials, mustard gas and the products of coal and
distillation are at an increased rate of developing cancer of the lungs.
Most causes of cancer are only discovered when someone goes to there
doctor feeling ill. Some tumors can be found on a routine chest x - ray. Lung
cancer in the early stage no signs of ill effects at all. As the tumor grows it starts to
cause symptoms due to its invasion into the tissues of the lung and airways. Lung
cancer is often suspected when someone coughs up blood or complains of a
hacking cough that continues to get worse. What the lung is trying to do is get rid of
the object that is lodged in the airway. I the tumor grows the patient will experience
chest pain and difficulty breathing. Often these symptoms are caused by a chest
infection which doesnt respond to the usual antibiotics and it is only when a chest x
- ray is taken and the cancer is found.
About two in every 5 patients have a cough as their first symptom. Anyone
who has lung cancer develops a cough somewhere along the way. Anyone who has
a continuos cough should see there doctor. It is not good to just call it a smokers
cough. Cancer invading the mucus airways irritates the nerves which starts a
cough and that cough usually doesnt remove the cancer so the cough becomes
persistent. Any bleeding is very irritating to the lining of the bronchi and will cause
blood to be coughed up. Coughing may occur if the irritation is severe and cannot
be cleared. This can be severe enough to crack a rib and damage small blood
vessels in the lungs. The cough caused by lung cancer is often most noticeable at
night and first thing in the morning.
The second most common symptom occurring in about 1 in 5, is a chest
infection. This is due to an inflammation of the lining over the lungs. A chest
infection may cause chills, fever, night sweats, loss of appetite and weight.
Infections may not respond to antibiotics and if complete blockage occurs the
patient may experience shortness breathe, cough and a fever may rapidly develop.
Symptoms and their serverity depend on how much of the lung is affected.
There are many different types of treatment for lung cancer and a number of
them can be used together. Anyone with lung cancer is of course hoping for a cure.
Every effort is made to identify those who can be cured for treatments. One kind of
treatment is surgery. Surgery is often the best and only chance of cure so it is
important that patients are not denied the possibility. Once the diagnosis of lung
cancer is made patients will be checked to see if there tumors can be removed. The
first step is to see on a chest x - ray if it is small enough to operate on. A patient
may benefit from an operation if the cancer hasnt spread outside the chest or too
the other lung. Because a lung may need to be removed it is important to make sure
the other lung will be able to work after the operation. Patients will have a series of
test called lung function studies done to test their lungs and there breathing
capacity. Unfortunately most patients can not be operated on because some who
have an operable tumor are too sick or their lungs will not work properly after the
operation. Treatment for inoperable tumors will be chosen by the patient and may
include radiotherapy, drug treatment as well as the treatment of specific symptoms.
Radiotherapy is the use of x - rays and other types of so called ionizing
radiation to treat cancer. High Doses of radiation damage the mechanisms that
control the division of cells and cancers are often more sensitive to its effect than
surrounding tissues. The dose of radiation that can be given is limited by the
amount of damage done to normal tissues. Because of this it is not possible to give
enough treatment to kill all the cancer cells. It is safer and more effective to divide
the treatment up. It is usually given 4 - 5 times a week. Most treatments courses
take around 3 - 6 weeks to complete. When treatment is given the patient is left
alone and only the radiographer is able to see them through a special window and
can talk through an intercom system. Each treatment, which is given through a
large machine, only takes a few minutes. After the treatment patient will have side
effects such as reddening and soreness, tiredness, pain and swelling, Nassau and
loss of appetite, sleepiness, loss of memory and cough. Radiotherapy followed by
surgery is usually the best treatment for patients with cancer confined high up in the
Another type of treatment for lung cancer is chemotherapy. This is the use of
drugs to tart cancer, While drugs ca be used to cure some cancer, only a minority of
patients with lung cancer are responsive to drug treatment. There are a number of
drugs which are able to shrink tumors at least by half. Although single - drug
chemotherapy does cause tumor shrinkage it rarely prolongs life. Several drugs are
being used in combinations now. Patients who are feeling very sick, who have lost
a lot of weight or who have had prior radiotherapy are likely to respond poorly to
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