How to Treat Lung Cancer?


Smoking is the major cause of lung cancer. Although nonsmokers can also develop this type of cancer, but the risk in smokers is estimated to be ten times more than non-smokers, and this risk is further increased by the number of cigarettes smoked per day.

It is considered that the snuff is responsible for 80% -90% of lung cancer deaths. The risk of passive smoking is around 25% -35%.

If you are a heavy smoker (more than 20 cigarettes per day), the risk of developing lung cancer is 30 to 40 times greater than if you do not smoke.

The main reason for the increase in this disease in the last fifty years has been the increase in the number of people who smoke cigarettes.

The risk of developing lung cancer than a nonsmoker decreases at the same level as that of a nonsmoker after fifteen years since I stopped smoking.

Although snuff is the leading cause of lung cancer, we must not forget that prolonged exposure to various substances or situations, such as asbestos, metals, radiation. can also cause this disease. This is important especially in the world of work on the development of occupational diseases and the protection to be taken who work in these environments.

What are the symptoms of lung cancer?

The symptoms may be due to the original tumor that develops in the lung or the effects of this extension of pulmonary tumor to other organs of the body. The most common are:

One of the most important or significant symptoms of lung cancer is the sputum with blood shed, or fresh blood started to cough. These episodes are often a warning sign of lung cancer, but can not always be due to: there are diseases, some benign, it can also produce. Any smoker, usually above forty years of age who present with cough bleeding gums, you should go to review by their GP, who will set the tone for their cause.

Other symptoms, usually due to the spread or growth of the primary tumor itself, may include: changes in the voice, or tone of voice, difficulty or painful swallowing, swelling of the veins of the upper trunk and neck (which called superior vena cava syndrome).

Symptoms due to metastases: headache and visual disturbances (in brain metastases), pain (in the bone ) liver failure with jaundice in the liver, etc..

  • Chronic cough
  • Labored breathing (dyspnea)
  • Weight loss
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Persistent pain, which can be located in the chest area or other areas of the body due to tumor spread.

How is lung cancer diagnosed?

Unfortunately, most cases are diagnosed too late for curative treatment application hundred percent. Early diagnosis is difficult because many of the symptoms we have seen are the same or similar to other developed lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis , pneumonia, etc..

Furthermore, patients with lung cancer chronic bronchitis also usually present, also caused by snuff. However, only 1% -2% of chronic bronchitis develop lung cancer.

The first test that is usually performed in suspected lung cancer, is the X-ray. If the tumor is present, needs to be of a minimum size of one centimeter in diameter to be detected by this test. However, when a tumor has reached this size, the cancer cells have already been divided up to thirty-six times. As we see, the lung cancer is a disease that is usually diagnosed too late.

Usually also routinely practiced blood.

The TAC or Scanner provides more information than radiography, and also serves to determine the extent or spread of the tumor to other organs.

Bronchoscopy involves a direct inspection of the interior of the bronchi (the “pipes” of the respiratory tract), and is usually performed with a thin fiber optic tube which allows such visualization, even in a display. Local anesthesia is used and is the best test for tumors in the main bronchi (larger).

Depending on the location of the tumor, we obtain a biospy of it, either by itself bronchoscopy or by puncture with a needle from the outside. This needle is best for tumors near the periphery of the lungs (closer to the ribs into the chest), and can not be accessed by bronchoscopy. This biopsy will give us the definitive diagnosis of lung cancer.

Occasionally, a sample of sputum (material ejected by coughing from the respiratory tract), can be examined under a microscope and detected in the cancer cells.

According to their appearance under the microscope, we can identify three main types of lung tumors (although there are more):

The most common, and more related to snuff is squamous cell carcinoma.

It is important to know what type of tumor is present because, for example, small cell tumors respond well to chemotherapy, while other types are best treated with surgery and / or radiotherapy.

  • Squamous cell carcinoma or squamous cell
  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Small cell carcinoma

What is the treatment of lung cancer?

The surgery can be a cure for lung cancer, but only one in five patients can benefit from this treatment. If the tumor has not spread outside the breast and does not affect vital structures such as the liver, surgical intervention may be possible, but only if the patient has no other illnesses which hinder them, such as severe bronchitis, heart disease or other.

Small cell tumor with chemotherapy treated well. This is given as “cycles” every three weeks. This chemotherapy prolongs the survival time of patients and improve their quality of life. The total number of cycles will depend on factors such as the condition of the individual, the extent of tumor, and the patient’s individual response to treatment.

Currently, we have made significant improvements in the results of chemotherapy, and is carrying out in-depth studies with these treatments. For the latter, some patients are selected to take part in clinical trials, which should not scare you, because it’s not testing drugs that are not known, but rather to see some effects of the known, but studied other ways. As a result, many patients can obtain significant benefits from these studies.

The non-small cell tumor (squamous cell, adenocarcinoma) can be treated with radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or with support palliative measures. Radiation therapy can be applied radical or palliative. Radical means using tumor with curative intent, and used high doses of radiation in patients selected for this type of treatment, generally, those who can not undergo surgery or who are expected an acceptable profit.

Palliative radiotherapy is usually given in lower doses. It has great efficacy in relieving symptoms such as bleeding from the airway (hemoptysis), bone pain, or obstruction of the airway by the tumor itself.

What is the prognosis of lung cancer?

Between 10% and 15% of patients can be cured or remain alive five years after diagnosis, no evidence of tumor recurrence. However, all patients can benefit from palliative treatments that improve their quality of life and symptoms that will hurt.

The most important prognostic factors are tumor size when diagnosed, if it has invaded other tissues or spread to other organs, and type or microscopic tumor aggressiveness.

Dr Per Grinsted , general practitioner, Dr. Gavin W. Petrie , Specialist in Respiratory Medicine

Dr Per Grinsted , general practitioner, Dr. Gavin W. Petrie , Specialist in Respiratory Medicine