Lung cancer symptoms and causes and treatment methods

 Lung cancer symptoms and causes and treatment methods

The largest proportion of cancer deaths in the world is due to lung cancer, what is lung cancer and what are its types? Lung cancer causes and risk factors, lung cancer symptoms, lung cancer diagnosis and treatment

Lung cancer symptoms and causes and treatment methods

Lung cancer is typical; The second most common type of cancer in both sexes (after prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women), it is also classified as the largest cause of cancer deaths worldwide for both men and women, 

and the American Cancer Society estimated In 2017, about (222,500) new cases of lung cancer were diagnosed in the United States of America alone, of whom approximately (155870) died.

Lung Cancer

What is lung cancer?

The proliferation of abnormal cells not controlled by the body, which arises in one or both lungs, usually in the cells lining the airways, and the abnormal cells do not grow within healthy lung tissue (that is, the lung tissue has not reached an advanced stage of damage before The abnormal cells arise and grow in it, 

and they multiply rapidly, forming tumors (tumors), the greater the size and number of lung tumors; The weaker the ability of the lung to secure oxygen to the bloodstream.

Tumors that settle in the place of their emergence and do not spread to other parts of the body are called benign tumors, while malignant tumors are the most dangerous, 

as they spread to other places far from the place of their original formation through the bloodstream or the lymphatic system.

Lung cancer was not so common before the thirties of the last century, but its spread accelerated greatly with the global spread of tobacco smoking, 

and the presence of this cancer has begun to decrease now in many developing countries due to the spread of awareness about the dangers of smoking, in addition to the activation of smoking cessation laws in them.

Lung cancer causes

What are the causes of lung cancer?

Anyone can get lung cancer, but about 90% of its cases are caused by smoking, from the first moment a person begins to inhale smoke, he begins to cause damage to his lung tissue, at first the lungs can repair the damage, but this becomes more difficult with exposure The continuous smoke, and when the lungs are damaged, they act abnormally (that is, their cells tend to multiply abnormally), which increases the risk of lung cancer, and vice versa. 

The lung condition gradually improves. At first, blood pressure returns to normal levels, as well as the rate of carbon monoxide. 

After the first month of quitting smoking, the lung becomes more effective in processing oxygen. After about 9 months, the cilia in the lung return to their normal functioning)

What other causes of lung cancer in addition to smoking?

Exposure to radon, a radioactive, colorless, and odorless gas found in nature, which may result from the decomposition of radon in groundwater and then spread in the air when that water is used, is the second major cause of lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, radon enters Into buildings through cracks, pipes, or drains, smokers who have exposed to radon double the risk of lung cancer.

Long-term inhalation of other dangerous substances can also lead to lung cancer. A whole type of cancer called mesothelioma is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos dust (a material used in construction as well as in heating appliances); Other lung carcinogens include:

- Arsenic.

- cadmium; (It is a naturally occurring substance to which humans are exposed through smoking tobacco or eating foods contaminated with cadmium, as shellfish may also contaminate potatoes and some leafy vegetables).

- Chrome.

- Nickel.

Some petroleum products (such as diesel).

- Uranium.

Some genetic mutations (and a mutation is a genetic change in the structure of DNA) in a person can lead to an increased risk of lung cancer, especially if this person is a smoker or exposed to other lung carcinogens. Sometimes there may be no clear cause for lung cancer.


Lung cancer risk factors

What are the risk factors for lung cancer?

The term risk factor expresses anything that can increase the likelihood of a person developing a particular disease, and the disease here is lung cancer.

Smoking is the biggest risk factor, as tobacco produces thousands of toxic substances (such as nitrosamines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), and cigarette smokers are 15 to 30 times more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers, and the more a person smokes, the greater the risk of infection. 

Negativity is also a major risk factor. Exposure to radon and the rest of the previously mentioned carcinogens is a risk factor.

Other risk factors include:

A family history of lung cancer.

Previous lung cancer, especially if the person was a smoker.

Previous chest radiotherapy. (Radiation treatments can induce cancer; in many cases, during the treatment of the disease with radiation, another tumor grows in other areas as a result of the treatment, unfortunately).

- Air Pollution; Resulting from vehicles, factories, or otherwise, accounts for approximately 1% of lung cancer deaths.


Lung cancer patterns

Lung cancers are generally divided into two main categories: small cell lung cancers (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC). Classification is based on the microscopic appearance of the tumor cells themselves and the size of these cells. 

These two varieties grow and propagate in different ways and may need There are different treatment options, which makes distinguishing between them very important:

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) constitutes an estimated 20% of lung cancers and is considered the most aggressive and the fastest spreading among all types, this type is strongly associated with smoking, as only 1% of its cases occur in non-smokers, giving (SCLC) Metastases (that is, it spreads to places in the body far from where it formed in the lung, causing tumors to develop in it) very quickly, and it is often discovered - unfortunately - after it has spread widely. 

This category is sometimes called oat cell carcinoma. Relative to the appearance of its cells under the microscope.

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for 80% of cases.

Adenocarcinoma: It is the most common type of NSCLC in the United States, accounting for approximately 50% of it. This type is associated with smoking as other types of lung cancer, but it is also seen in non-smokers who develop lung cancer. Peripheral areas of the lungs.

- Bronchioloalveolar carcinomas: a subtype of adenocarcinoma frequently seen in various places in the lungs and then spreading through the alveolar walls; (Pulmonary alveoli, the part of the respiratory system where the gaseous exchanges between air and blood take place)

Squamous cell carcinomas: It was previously more common than adenocarcinomas, but today it accounts for about 30% of all types of NSCLC. It is also known as epidermoid carcinoma (which affects squamous cells, which are thin cells). Flat, located in the lining of the respiratory tracts), they generally occur in the central area of ​​the chest in the trachea

Large cell carcinoma: Sometimes referred to as undifferentiated carcinoma, it is the least common type of small cell carcinoma (NSCLC).

Mixtures of several types or forms of a cancer cell (NSCLC) are also seen.

There are also several types, but they are less common than (SCLC) and (NSCLC), they all make up a total of (5-10)% of lung cancers:

- Bronchial carcinoid: It constitutes about 5% of all lung cancer cases, and it is often a small tumor when diagnosed (about 2-4 cm or smaller), and it most often occurs in ages less than 40 years, a small amount of these tumors can have To secrete hormone-like substances that may cause certain symptoms depending on the substance secreted (for example redness in the face, diarrhea, increased heart rate). 

This type of lung cancer grows and spreads relatively slowly, and is detected early enough to be amenable to surgical removal.

Cancers of the supporting tissues of the lung, such as smooth muscle and blood vessels, may rarely occur in the lung.

It should be noted that tumors can spread to the lung from anywhere in the body, whether through the bloodstream or the system

Lymphatic or directly from nearby organs to form metastatic tumors, metastases to the lungs tend to be multiple, scattered within the lungs, and concentrated in peripheral areas rather than central areas.


Lung cancer symptoms

What are the symptoms and signs of lung cancer?

Lung cancer usually does not have symptoms in its early stages, as its symptoms and signs begin to appear after it reaches an advanced stage, and they include:

A persistent, intermittent cough, sometimes rough, that may contain bloody mucus.

Changes in the cough that the patient originally suffers from (such as the cough becoming painful, changing its voice, or beginning to produce colored phlegm)

Recurrent respiratory infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

Shortness of breath that worsens over time.

Constant chest pain.


Swelling in the neck or face.

Fatigue, weakness, loss of weight and appetite, fever (high temperature) that goes and comes back severe headache, and generalized bodily aches.

Swallowing problems.

These symptoms usually occur as a result of blocked airways or because cancer has spread to additional areas within the lung, to nearby areas, or to other parts of the body.

Anyone who suffers from the previous symptoms should see a doctor as soon as possible, especially in the case of persistent cough, bloody sputum, wheezing (wheezing sound when breathing), hoarseness, and persistent lung infections.


Lung cancer diagnosis

After the doctor examines the patient, he tells him to prepare for several special examinations, including:

Imaging tests: The abnormal mass can be seen with plain radiography (X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), and computed tomography (PET scan).

Sputum cell examination (ie examination of sputum under a microscope): A microscopic examination of the sputum can determine whether or not cancer is present.

biopsies (samples taken from cells and tissues for examination); He can determine whether the cells are malignant, and obtain biopsies by:

Bronchoscopy: After the patient has calmed down, a tube attached to light is inserted into his throat and then into his lungs, allowing for a close inspection of the area.

Mediastinoscopy: The doctor makes an incision at the base of the patient's neck, and then inserts a lighted instrument and surgical tools used to take samples from the lymph nodes. This operation is usually performed in a hospital and under general anesthesia.

Needle biopsy: The doctor inserts a special needle through the chest wall into the suspicious area of ​​the lung (which was previously identified based on radiological examinations).

Samples are sent Taken to a pathological laboratory for analysis, and if the result is positive, additional tests are required, such as a bone scan, to determine whether cancer has spread, as well as to determine its stage.

lung cancer stages

What are the stages (Stages) of lung cancer?

After the disease is diagnosed, the oncologist determines the stage the tumor has reached by determining the extent of its spread in the body. 

The stage of the tumor determines the treatment options and facilitates the prognosis of the disease, or what is known as its warning.

For non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the disease is classified into four stages:

Stage 1 (Stage1): The tumor is in only one lung without any spread to the lymph nodes.

Stage 2 (Stage2): The tumor has spread to the lymph nodes surrounding the affected lung.

Stage 3A: The tumor has spread to the lymph nodes around the trachea, chest wall, and diaphragm on the same side as the affected lung.

Stage B3 (Stage3B): The tumor has spread to the lymph nodes in the second lung or in the neck.

Stage 4: The tumor has spread through the rest of the body and to other parts of the lungs.

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC), it has two stages: Limited and Extensive. In the specific stage, the tumor is located in one lung and in nearby lymph nodes.

In the metastatic stage, the tumor affects the second lung and other organs of the body (cancer metastasizes).


Lung cancer treatment

How is lung cancer treated?

The treatment team should consist of several doctors: a thoracic surgeon, a thoracic internist, an oncologist, and a specialist in radiation oncology, and the patient discusses all treatment options with his doctors to make the appropriate decision.

Treatment for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) varies from person to person depending on several factors such as the stage of the disease, the patient's general health condition, and personal preferences. We have the following options:

Stage 1: All that is needed is to remove part of the lung, but chemotherapy may be necessary, especially if the patient has a high risk of recurrence (recurrence of the disease).

Stage 2: Surgery may need to remove part of the lung or possibly all of the lungs, and chemotherapy is usually recommended.

Stage 3: May require a combination of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy.

Stage 4: Treatment is difficult. Options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy (drugs that target changes in cancer cells that cause them to grow outward).

under control), immunotherapy; (Medications that stimulate the patient's immune system to destroy cancer cells more effectively.)

Treatment for small cell lung cancer (SCLC) also includes surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy, but in most cases, the cancer is too advanced to accept surgical treatment.

Survival after lung cancer

What is the average life for lung cancer patients?

There is a term five-year survival rate that doctors use to estimate the average lifespan of a lung cancer patient after being diagnosed with the disease, and this term expresses the percentage of people, who manage to survive for at least five years after being diagnosed with the disease.

Five-year survival rates for NSCLC patients by stages:

Stage 1: Survival with a percentage of (45-49%).

Stage 2: with a percentage of (30-31)%.

Stage A3: 14%.

Stage B3: The survival rate is 5%.

Stage 4: by 1%.

SCLC is very aggressive, in its limited stage the five-year survival rate is 14% and in the disseminated stage the median survival is generally about 6 to 12 months.

In conclusion, lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, as mentioned above, and it is the most deadly, so it must be prevented, and this is done mainly by stopping the most important cause, which is smoking. 

Many products such as nicotine gum and its sprays can help in quitting smoking, and reducing exposure to secondhand smoke is an effective condom. 

Other carcinogenic factors that we mentioned earlier in the article (asbestos, radon, petroleum products, etc.) must also be avoided.

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