What you need to know about lung cancer

There are various types of cancers that increase the mortality rate of a population, amongst which lung cancer is the most lethal; because it causes the highest mortality or death rate, more than the summation of most types of cancer such as breast, colon, and prostate cancer.

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Cancer of the lung is similar to other types of cancer in terms of formation. They all result from the abnormal and uncontrollable proliferation of the basic unit of life, cell. The abnormal division and regeneration of cells form a mass that is known as, tumor. However, this tumor may either be benign or malignant.

A benign tumor occurs primarily without an extreme proliferation of cells, even if their growth rate is abnormal; hence they do not spread and can be removed by health professionals. On the other hand, a malignant tumor is characterized by drastic division and proliferation of cells that are not limited to their originator (that is, the organ they are produced from) but can be conveyed or spread to other parts of the body via the bloodstream or lymphatic system, by a process called metastasis. The site that experiences tumor growth due to metastasis is called metastases.

Lung cancer naturally undergoes metastasis at the very earliest stage of formation to other organs of the body such as the brain, bones, liver, and adrenal glands, which makes it a very difficult type of cancer to treat. The formation of a tumor on the lungs sporadically impedes the natural functions of the lungs, such as the exchanging of gases between the air you breathe and the bloodstream (carbon dioxide is removed from the bloodstream and simultaneously replaced by oxygen).

The primary functions of the lung occur due to the combined efforts of the components and parts that make it up; these parts include alveoli sac and bronchi & bronchioles, which functions as a site of gaseous exchange and pathway for the conveyance of air that arises from the trachea to the lungs, respectively. None of the parts that make up a lung is limited to tumor; hence lung cancer can occur in any of these parts, but more than ninety percent of lung cancer arises from the epithelial cells lining the bronchi and bronchioles. This factor is the main reason why lung cancers are sometimes called bronchogenic cancer.

Symptoms of lungs cancer

The manifestation of a few signs that indicate the occurrence of lung cancer may not occur until the cancer has been metastasized (spread to other parts of the body). It is, however, advisable to consult a health specialist when you notice the following signs:

– Unexplained Fatigue
– Chest pain that may deteriorate when you laugh or cough
– A persistent cough that may include the coughing up of sputum that contains blood
– Persistent bronchitis and pneumonia, and other respiratory infections
– Difficulty in breathing such as Shortness of breath and wheezing

Diagnosis of lung cancer

There are several procedures for the treatment of cancer, depending on the level of severity. The severity of lung cancer can be determined via prior imaging scans and physical tests or examinations that must be performed before a health specialist can recommend the best treatment required for harnessing and treating your cancer. The imaging tests that are performed for the diagnosis of lung cancer include:

– X-ray scan
– Computerized Tomography (CT scan)
– Low-dose CT
– Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan (MRI scan)
– Positron Emission Tomography (PET scan)
– Bone scan
– Bronchoscopy

X-ray scan: The performance of the chest X-ray is the first step most health specialists do to identify the mass of the tumor in the lungs. In this imaging scanning procedure, the health specialist will need the images of the front, back, and sides of the chest to determine the site of the lungs that appear cancerous. But this procedure can not tell if it is actually cancerous. In most cases, calcified nodules frequently get mistaken for lung cancer.

Computerized Tomography scan (CT scan): This scan is used for the examination of metastases and lung tumors with a cross-sectional image. It is more effective than chest X-ray and can be performed in the chest, brain, or abdomen when searching for possible metastases.

Low-dose CT scan: This scan is extremely effective in the screening and detection of earlier, smaller, and curable cancer of the lung. Studies have shown that low-dose CT scans mitigate about twenty percent of the mortality rate caused by lung cancer.

MRI scan: MRI scan imaging test makes use of magnetism and radio waves to precisely determine metastases in the brain or spinal cord.

Bone scan: This test is done to check if lung cancer has metastasized to the bone by the use of radioactive materials that are injected into the bloodstream. The radioactive materials will collect in the metastases.

Bronchoscopy: Bronchoscopy involves the insertion of a flexible fiber-optic probe to visualize the airways (trachea, bronchi, and bronchioles) to check for tumors.

Lung cancer treatments

There are several types of treatment procedures your doctor may recommend after undergoing the prior imaging tests to diagnose your lung cancer before they will recommend the best treatment for your type of cancer, which may be the surgical removal of a tumor, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy.

Surgery: Prior to the surgical removal of cancer, a pulmonary functioning test to make sure a healthy lung is left behind. The removal of lung cancer may involve the removal of a lobe, a portion of one lobe, or the entire lungs by a process called lobectomy, resection of the lungs, and pneumonectomy, respectively.

Radiation therapy: Your doctor may recommend radiation therapy if the severity of your lung cancer can not be harnessed with surgery. It exposes the patient to radiation that mitigates the overall size and growth of the tumor.

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is frequently used in conjunction with radiation therapy. It involves the oral or intravenous use of medications to harness and mitigate the growth and size of the tumor. However, chemotherapy is not specific in its function and will also mitigate the normal growth and proliferation of cells.

Immunotherapy: This treatment procedure may be effective for those with severe lung cancer; immunotherapy drugs perform primary functions of strengthening the immune response against cancer. The drugs include nivolumab (Opdivo) and durvalumab (Imfinzi).

Targeted therapy: This is a type of treatment procedure for lung cancer that involves the administration of drugs to target angiogenesis that allows the growth of tumors and cancers that are due to genetic changes of the EGFR genes. These drugs include angiogenesis inhibitors such as Cyramza & avastin and EGFR inhibitors such as Terceva and Gilotrif.

These are the several types of procedures that your doctor may recommend for the treatment of lung cancers, depending on the degree of severity.

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