Posted September 15, 2022 by Anusha ‐ 3 min read
Like other cancers, lung cancer develops when normal processes of cell division and growth are disrupted, giving way to abnormal, uncontrollable growth. The cells grow into a mass, or tumor.
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.
Coughing that does not improve
Blood in phlegm or sputum that is expelled by coughing
Infections that return or will not clear
Chest pain that gets worse with cough or laugh
Usually, concern that a patient may have lung cancer starts as an abnormal finding on a chest imaging study (chest X-ray or CT scan) or when the disease is advanced enough to cause symptoms, such as coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue and/or weight loss.
Diagnosis requires a biopsy, or the removal of cells or tissues from the suspicious mass.
Biopsies can be performed through a camera fed through the breathing tubes (called bronchoscopy) or from a needle inserted through the skin into the lung tumor.
If these approaches are not successful, surgery may be required for an adequate diagnosis.
The biopsy is important in determining whether or not it is cancer, and to determine which type of lung cancer.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs that are designed to kill rapidly growing cells, such as cancer cells.
Chemotherapy may be injected directly into a vein (by IV, or intravenously) or given through a catheter, which is a thin tube placed into a large vein and kept there until it is no longer needed.
Some chemotherapy drugs are taken orally in pill form.
Targeted agents are a newer class of drugs that are designed to act against specific weaknesses in cancer cells or surrounding supportive tissues, such as blood vessels.
These drugs can also be taken orally or by IV.
They are most effective in cancers with specific changes in their genes or cell receptors.
Radiation therapy is a form of high energy X-ray that kills cancer cells.
It can be used as a primary treatment, or in combination with chemotherapy (with or without surgery).
It often can play an important role in advanced cancer patients by providing relief from pain, blockage of the airways, shortness of breath or coughing.
Surgery is still considered the
gold standardfor treating early-stage lung cancer.
Removing the tumor and surrounding lung tissue gives the best chance for cure for patients whose disease is localized.
Surgery should be performed by specialized thoracic surgeons with particular expertise in treatment of lung cancer and other chest malignancies.
An operation to remove only a small portion of the lung is called a segmental or wedge resection.
Removal of a defined section of the lung, (there are three lobes of the lung on the right and two on the left), is a lobectomy. This is the most common surgery performed for lung cancer.
The removal of an entire lung is called a pneumonectomy.