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Lung cancer

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Lung cancer is cancer of the lungs which are the organs that allow us to breathe.

 

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the world. In the United States alone around 234,000 are diagnosed with lung cancer every year.

 

The cancer usually forms in the tissue of the lungs and continues to grow and spread to other parts of the body.

 

What are the types?

 

There are two main types of lung cancer:

  • small cell lung cancer
  • non-small cell lung cancer

Small cell lung cancer is almost always found in heavy smokers, whereas non-small cell lung cancer includes all of the other types of lung cancer that can be impacted by smoking but are not always, such as squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma and large cell carcinoma.

 

Non-small cell lung cancer

 

Non-small cell lung cancer makes up for 85% of lung cancer cases and usually starts on the surface of the lungs and airways (windpipe).

 

Small cell lung cancer

 

Small cell lung cancer makes up about 15% of lung cancer cases and is more likely to spread quickly to other parts of the body such as the lymph nodes.

 

Because it spreads quickly, surgery is usually less effective for small cell lung cancer.

 

Who's most at risk?

 

Lung cancer is most common in people who smoke, however medical professionals are starting to see more non-smokers and more women getting diagnosed with the cancer.

 

Some of the main risk factors for lung cancer are things that can be inhaled into your lungs such as

  • smoke (being the smoker)
  • second-hand smoke
  • chemicals such as asbestos, arsenic and chromium and radon
  • pollution in the air

 

Other factors include radiation exposure (radiation therapy), HIV and a family history.

 

Diagnosis

 

To diagnose lung cancer the medical professional will first perform a physical exam and listen to your breathing. After this you will probably have an imaging test with either a CT, X-ray, or PET scan.

 

At this time the doctor may also ask for a sputum cytology which is where you cough up enough spit, then this can be tested for cancerous cells. If the scan comes back abnormal, the doctor will look to taking a sample of either tissue or fluid from the lungs (also called a biopsy).

 

There are quite a few ways to do this sampling which include the following:

  • bronchoscopy
  • needle biopsy
  • fine needle aspiration (FNA)
  • thoracentesis
  • andobronchial ultrasound
  • a video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery

 

A couple of these involve going down the throat, while others are techniques for inserting the needle directly into the tumor.

 

Based on your scans the doctor will decide which type of tissue/fluid sample is right for you.

 

Treatment

 

Treatment for lung cancer might include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy combined.

 

Chemotherapy and radiation may be used before surgery to reduce the size of the tumor(s) or after surgery to ensure that all the cancer cells are gone.

 

In advanced cases of lung cancer, chemotherapy and radiation may even be used to reduce levels of pain.

 

Surgery for lung cancer

 

The types of surgeries performed for lung cancer include a

  • wedge resection (small section of lung with tumor)
  • segmental resection (a larger port of lung with tumor)
  • lobectomy (an entire lobe, or half, of one lung)
  • pneumonectomy (an entire lung)

 

Other treatment options

 

People who can't have surgery, such as those diagnosed with small lung cancers, might be offered radiosurgery. This is a radiation treatment with multiple beams targeted at the cancer.

 

In advanced cases of lung cancer, targeted drug therapy and immunotherapy may be offered to fight off the cancer. Targeted drug therapy picks out specific things in the cancer cells and targets them in order to kill them, while immunotherapy helps arm the immune system to help it fight off the cancer.

 

Talk to me.

 

Lung cancer is cancer of the lungs which are the organs that allow us to breathe.

 

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the world. In the United States alone around 234,000 are diagnosed with lung cancer every year.

 

The cancer usually forms in the tissue of the lungs and continues to grow and spread to other parts of the body.

 

What are the types?

 

There are two main types of lung cancer:

  • small cell lung cancer
  • non-small cell lung cancer
Graphic representation of Lung cancer

Small cell lung cancer is almost always found in heavy smokers, whereas non-small cell lung cancer includes all of the other types of lung cancer that can be impacted by smoking but are not always, such as squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma and large cell carcinoma.

 

Non-small cell lung cancer

 

Non-small cell lung cancer makes up for 85% of lung cancer cases and usually starts on the surface of the lungs and airways (windpipe).

 

Small cell lung cancer

 

Small cell lung cancer makes up about 15% of lung cancer cases and is more likely to spread quickly to other parts of the body such as the lymph nodes.

 

Because it spreads quickly, surgery is usually less effective for small cell lung cancer.

 

Who's most at risk?

 

Lung cancer is most common in people who smoke, however medical professionals are starting to see more non-smokers and more women getting diagnosed with the cancer.

 

Some of the main risk factors for lung cancer are things that can be inhaled into your lungs such as

  • smoke (being the smoker)
  • second-hand smoke
  • chemicals such as asbestos, arsenic and chromium and radon
  • pollution in the air

 

Other factors include radiation exposure (radiation therapy), HIV and a family history.

 

Diagnosis

 

To diagnose lung cancer the medical professional will first perform a physical exam and listen to your breathing. After this you will probably have an imaging test with either a CT, X-ray, or PET scan.

 

At this time the doctor may also ask for a sputum cytology which is where you cough up enough spit, then this can be tested for cancerous cells. If the scan comes back abnormal, the doctor will look to taking a sample of either tissue or fluid from the lungs (also called a biopsy).

 

There are quite a few ways to do this sampling which include the following:

  • bronchoscopy
  • needle biopsy
  • fine needle aspiration (FNA)
  • thoracentesis
  • andobronchial ultrasound
  • a video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery

 

A couple of these involve going down the throat, while others are techniques for inserting the needle directly into the tumor.

 

Based on your scans the doctor will decide which type of tissue/fluid sample is right for you.

 

Treatment

 

Treatment for lung cancer might include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy combined.

 

Chemotherapy and radiation may be used before surgery to reduce the size of the tumor(s) or after surgery to ensure that all the cancer cells are gone.

 

In advanced cases of lung cancer, chemotherapy and radiation may even be used to reduce levels of pain.

 

Surgery for lung cancer

 

The types of surgeries performed for lung cancer include a

  • wedge resection (small section of lung with tumor)
  • segmental resection (a larger port of lung with tumor)
  • lobectomy (an entire lobe, or half, of one lung)
  • pneumonectomy (an entire lung)

 

Other treatment options

 

People who can't have surgery, such as those diagnosed with small lung cancers, might be offered radiosurgery. This is a radiation treatment with multiple beams targeted at the cancer.

 

In advanced cases of lung cancer, targeted drug therapy and immunotherapy may be offered to fight off the cancer. Targeted drug therapy picks out specific things in the cancer cells and targets them in order to kill them, while immunotherapy helps arm the immune system to help it fight off the cancer.

 

Symptom list:

Lung cancer

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Financial support

Not all of us are able to afford the treatment we need. Search your insurance coverage, or check out what charities may be able to offer you for your condition.

p.s. Just because you have insurance, that doesn't mean that charities or other organizations are not able to support you too.

Emotional support

Whether it's a free counseling session or to find someone with a similar diagnosis, these Germie approved charities might be able to help. Click to explore their offerings!

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