Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the lungs. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide.

People who smoke have the greatest risk of lung cancer, though lung cancer can also occur in people who have never smoked. The risk of lung cancer increases with the length of time and number of cigarettes you've smoked. If you quit smoking, even after smoking for many years, you can significantly reduce your chances of developing lung cancer.

Lung cancer typically doesn't cause signs and symptoms in its earliest stages. Signs and symptoms of lung cancer typically occur when the disease is advanced.

Signs and symptoms of lung cancer may include:

  • A new cough that doesn't go away
  • Coughing up blood, even a small amount
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Hoarseness
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Bone pain
  • Headache

Smoking causes the majority of lung cancers — both in smokers and in people exposed to secondhand smoke. But lung cancer also occurs in people who never smoked and in those who never had prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke. In these cases, there may be no clear cause of lung cancer.

A number of factors may increase your risk of lung cancer. Some risk factors can be controlled, for instance, by quitting smoking. And other factors can't be controlled, such as your family history.

Risk factors for lung cancer include:

  • Smoking - Your risk of lung cancer increases with the number of cigarettes you smoke each day and the number of years you have smoked. Quitting at any age can significantly lower your risk of developing lung cancer.
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke - Even if you don't smoke, your risk of lung cancer increases if you're exposed to secondhand smoke.
  • Previous radiation therapy - If you've undergone radiation therapy to the chest for another type of cancer, you may have an increased risk of developing lung cancer.
  • Exposure to radon gas - Radon is produced by the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water that eventually becomes part of the air you breathe. Unsafe levels of radon can accumulate in any building, including homes.
  • Exposure to asbestos and other carcinogens -Workplace exposure to asbestos and other substances known to cause cancer such as arsenic, chromium and nickel can increase your risk of developing lung cancer, especially if you're a smoker.
  • Family history of lung cancer - People with a parent, sibling or child with lung cancer have an increased risk of the disease.

Lung cancer can cause complications, such as:

  • Shortness of breath - People with lung cancer can experience shortness of breath if cancer grows to block the major airways. Lung cancer can also cause fluid to accumulate around the lungs, making it harder for the affected lung to expand fully when you inhale.
  • Coughing up blood - Lung cancer can cause bleeding in the airway, which can cause you to cough up blood (hemoptysis).
  • Pain - Advanced lung cancer that spreads to the lining of a lung or to another area of the body, such as a bone, can cause pain.
  • Fluid in the chest (pleural effusion) - Lung cancer can cause fluid to accumulate in the space that surrounds the affected lung in the chest cavity (pleural space).
  • Cancer that spreads to other parts of the body (metastasis). Lung cancer often spreads (metastasizes) to other parts of the body, such as the brain and the bones.
  • Cancer that spreads can cause pain, nausea, headaches, or other signs and symptoms depending on what organ is affected.

There's no sure way to prevent lung cancer, but you can reduce your risk if you:

  • Don't smoke - If you've never smoked, don't start. Talk to your children about not smoking so that they can understand how to avoid this major risk factor for lung cancer.
  • Stop smoking. Stop smoking now. Quitting reduces your risk of lung cancer, even if you've smoked for years.
  • Avoid secondhand smoke - If you live or work with a smoker, urge him or her to quit. At the very least, ask him or her to smoke outside. Avoid areas where people smoke, such as bars and restaurants, and seek out smoke-free options.
  • Avoid carcinogens at work - Take precautions to protect yourself from exposure to toxic chemicals at work. Follow your employer's precautions. For instance, if you're given a face mask for protection, always wear it.
  • Eat a diet full of fruits and vegetables - Choose a healthy diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Food sources of vitamins and nutrients are best. Avoid taking large doses of vitamins in pill form, as they may be harmful.
  • Exercise most days of the week - If you don't exercise regularly, start out slowly. Try to exercise most days of the week.

How is it diagnosed?

Tests may include:
  • Imaging tests - An X-ray image of your lungs may reveal an abnormal mass or nodule. A CT scan can reveal small lesions in your lungs that might not be detected on an X-ray.
  • Sputum cytology - If you have a cough and are producing sputum, looking at the sputum under the microscope can sometimes reveal the presence of lung cancer cells.
  • Tissue sample (biopsy) - A sample of abnormal cells may be removed in a procedure called a biopsy.

Tests to determine the extent of the cancer

Once your lung cancer has been diagnosed, your doctor will work to determine the extent (stage) of your cancer. Your cancer's stage helps you and your doctor decide what treatment is most appropriate. Staging tests may include imaging procedures that allow your doctor to look for evidence that cancer has spread beyond your lungs. These tests include CT, MRI, positron emission tomography (PET) and bone scans. Not every test is appropriate for every person, so talk with your doctor about which procedures are right for you.

How is it treated?

You and your doctor choose a cancer treatment plan based on a number of factors,

such as your overall health, the type and stage of your cancer, and your preferences.

In some cases, you may choose not to undergo treatment. For instance, you may feel that the side effects of treatment will outweigh the potential benefits. When that's the case, your doctor may suggest comfort care to treat only the symptoms the cancer is causing, such as pain or shortness of breath.

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiotherapy
  • Targeted Drug therapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Palliative therapy

Consult with experienced Doctors

JNU is home to some of the most eminent doctors in the world, most of whom are pioneers in their respective arenas and are renowned for developing innovative and revolutionary procedures
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