Lung Cancer – Stages, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments
The lungs are the two organs in your chest that are sponge-like. When you inhale, they take in oxygen and when you exhale, they release carbon-di-oxide. Lung cancer is cancer that begins in the lungs. Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths. Although the greatest risk is for the people who smoke, it can also happen to people who have never smoked. If you smoke for many cigarettes for many years, your risk for lung cancer increases. However, even after smoking for many years, you quit smoking, it can reduce your chances for lung cancer significantly. Other causes include asbestos inhalation and air pollution from industry, vehicles and power generation.
The overall survival rate is just 17% at 5 years after diagnosis as it tends to spread rapidly to the other parts of the body even before it gets diagnosed.
Signs and Symptoms
There are varied symptoms of lung cancer and there are no obvious warning signs. There are many people who do not display any lung cancer symptoms until it is discovered in a routine CT scan or chest x-ray. Some of the symptoms include-
- Wheezing, shortness of breath and chest pain
- Hoarseness and persistent cough
- Weakness, weight loss and fatigue
- Blood streaked sputum
- Frequent episodes of pneumonia or bronchitis
There is a wide range of procedures and diagnostic tests that are undertaken to diagnose lung cancer. They include-
- Physical examination
- Patient history
- Blood tests
- Cytological studies of bronchial washings and sputum
- Imaging tests such as bone scans, PET, CT and chest x-rays
The stages of lung cancer can also be determined by many of these procedures.
Different stages of lung cancer
The extent to which cancer has spread to other parts of the body refers to the stage of the lung cancer. The treatment of lung cancer depends upon its stage. The lung cancer can spread to any organ of the body. However, bones, liver and brain are most common. The different stages are listed below-
Stage 1- Cancer confined to lung
Stage 2- Cancer confined to chest
Stage 3- Cancer confined to chest but with more aggressive and larger tumours than stage 2
Stage 4- Cancer spread to other parts of the body.
Different treatments available
Lung Cancer Treatment in India involves a combination of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy. Surgery removes the cancer cells and radiation therapy kills the cancer cells. Until and unless there is achievement of complete surgical removal of tumour cells, lung cancer is incurable. However, surgery is the most effective treatment for lung cancer but it is limited to those cancers that are in Stage 1 and 2, i.e. they have not spread beyond the lungs.
Cancer specialist in India gives radiation therapy to those patients who refuse surgery or who are not suitable for surgery. It can also be given to kill cancer cells that may remain after the surgery. They also give chemotherapy to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be given alone or in combination with radiation and/or radiation therapy as required. The most effective measure that can prevent lung cancer is to stop smoking and reduce exposure to passive smoking.