Friday, April 27, 2012

Lung Cancer - Symptoms & Treatments

Cancer is a class of diseases characterized by out of control cell growth. Lung cancer occurs when this uncontrolled cell growth begins in one or both lungs. The lungs are two large spongy organs located inside the chest cavity. Air is breathed into the trachea and moves down two tubes called bronchi, each going to a lung. Lung cancer occurs most often in adults between the ages of 40 and 70 who have smoked cigarettes for at least 20 years.

Over 1,400 Victorians are diagnosed with every year. Only about 2% of those diagnosed with lung cancer that has spread to other areas of the body are alive five years after the diagnosis, although the survival rates are diagnosed at a very early stage are higher with approximately 49% surviving for five years or longer.

There are different types of lung cancer, depending on which cells are affected. The two main types are:

1. Small cell carcinom
Around 15 per cent are small cell carcinomas. This type of cancer spreads early and shows few early symptoms.

2. Non-small cell carcinoma
These cancers affect the cells that line the main bronchi.

Some lung tumors are metastatic from cancers elsewhere in the body. The lungs are a common site for metastasis. Since lung cancer tends to spread or metastasize very early in its course, it is a very life-threatening cancer and one of the most difficult cancers to treat. While lung cancer can spread to any organ in the body.

Symptoms are varied depending upon where and how widespread the tumor is. Warning signs of lung cancer are not always present or easy to identify. Lung cancer symptoms may take years before appearing, usually after the disease is in an advanced stage.

Below is the following symptoms of lung cancer include:

1. Pain in the chest shoulder or back from coughing

2. A cough that does not go away or gets worse over time

3. Breathlessness and swallowing

4. Recurring pneumonia or chest infections

5. Wheezing or hoarseness may signal blockage

6. Unexplained weight loss

Lung cancer is categorized into stages according to its spread. This helps the doctors to decide on appropriate treatments. The treatments also depend on the type of cancer, age, health status and additional personal characteristics. As there is usually no single treatment for cancer, patients often receive a combination of therapies and palliative care. More than one type of therapy may be prescribed.

Although the diagnostic techniques provided important information, extracting cancer cells and looking at them under a microscope is the only absolute way to diagnose lung cancer. This procedure is called a biopsy. If the biopsy confirms lung cancer, a pathologist will determine whether it is non-small cell or small cell.

Small cell lung cancer has two stages which is:

1. In the limited stage, the tumor exists in one lung and in nearby lymph nodes.

2. In the extensive stage, the tumor has infected the other lung as well as other organs in the body.

For non-small cell lung cancer, these stages are labeled from I to IV. The lower numbers indicate earlier stages where the cancer has spread less:

1. Stage I is when the tumor is found only in one lung and in no lymph nodes.

2. Stage II is when the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes surrounding the infected lung.

3. Stage III is when the cancer has spread to lymph nodes around the trachea, chest wall and diaphragm on the same side as the infected lung.

4. Stage IV is when the cancer has spread to lymph nodes on the other lung or in the neck.

5. Stage IV is when the cancer has spread throughout the rest of the body and other parts of the lungs.

As with most cancers, the results are best if the cancer is diagnosed in its earliest stages. However, some lung cancers aren't diagnosed until they are quite advanced. Treatment may then be limited to easing the symptoms. Treatment decisions depend on whether SCLC or NSCLC. Treatment options include:

1. Chemotherapy is an anti cancer drugs are given to stop cancer cells from multiplying. This treatment is most effective for small cell carcinoma.

2. Surgery to remove the affected part of the lung or an entire lung. This offers the best chance of cure if the cancer has not spread beyond the lungs.

3. Radiotherapy use of x-rays to target and kill cancer cells. It may be used against some early stage lung cancers and to stop cancer in the lymph nodes from spreading further.

4. Targeted therapy is use of small molecules, often in tablet form that may be used after chemotherapy.

5. Clinical trials is a participation in a clinical trial that investigates the safety and effectiveness of novel drugs may be offered.

Cancers that are closely linked to certain behaviors are the easiest to prevent. If you are a current tobacco user, quitting can still greatly reduce your chances of getting cancer. The most important preventive measure you can take is to quit smoking. Many products such as nicotine gum, nicotine sprays, nicotine inhalers have been successfully used to help people trying to quit smoking.

There are common causes of lung cancer:

1. A person who smokes more than one pack of cigarettes per day has a risk 20-25 times greater than someone who has never smoked.

2. Cigar and pipe smoking increases the risk of lung cancer but not as much as smoking cigarettes.

3. Asbestos fibers are silicate fibers that can persist for a lifetime in lung tissue following exposure to asbestos. The workplace is a common source of exposure to asbestos fibers.

4. Radon gas is a natural chemically inert gas that is a natural decay product of uranium. With an estimated 12% deaths attributable to radon gas.

5. Air pollution from vehicles, industry, and power plants can raise the likelihood of developing lung cancer in exposed individuals

Screening techniques are designed to find cancer at the earliest stage so that the most treatment options are available. This cancer are detected in the late stages of the disease after they have spread and are harder to treat. Possible lung cancer screening tests include analysis of sputum cells, fiberoptic examination of bronchial passages and low-dose spiral CT scans.

Cancer and cancer treatments can make a person feel too tired to exercise. However, studies show that, physical activity can boost the energy levels of a person who has cancer.

Regular exercise improves functioning of the immune system and may increase survival rates in some cases. Aim for five to 20 minutes of moderate intensity exercise on most days of the week. But do not exercise without your doctor's knowledge and support because inappropriate exercise may be harmful.

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