Brief Description: Lung cancer, as with all cancers, is an uncontrollable increase of cells. It happens within the lung tissue, but it could also go on to affect other nearby tissue and spread to further out than just the lungs.
Cellular / Molecular Basis: Lung cancer has two types; small cell and non small cell. The two types can be identified by their appearance when looked at with a microscope. It usually affects the cells that are lined along air passages in the lungs.
Causes: The foremost reason for lung cancer is cigarette smoking which causes around 90% of all deaths caused by lung cancer in the world. However, smoking is not the only way to get it. The second most frequent cause of lung cancer is exposure to radon gas, which is created by the decay of uranium. Exposure to asbestos can also result in lung cancer and various other lung diseases.
Signs and Symptoms: There is a range of symptoms for lung cancer, which are coughing frequently or coughing up blood, having difficulty swallowing, losing weight, a feeling of weakness or severe fatigue, pain felt within the ribcage, a swollen neck and face, shortness of breath, a croaky or gruff voice, pneumonia/ bronchitis and seizures or headaches. It can cause many complications, because the cancer could impede the patients airflow, therefore making it more difficult to breathe. Secretion could even build up behind the cancer, potentially prompting pneumonia. The cancer can also have an abundant supply of blood, and if broken, the cancer could bleed into the patients airway.
Detection: If lung cancer is suspected, CT scans and x-rays will take place to determine if the person has lung cancer. A healthy lung in an x-ray will be consistently dark, while a lung with lung cancer will have patches of lighter colour, indicating the cancer. If it seems that there is cancerous growth, the patient will need to have lung function testing and a blood test to determine if they are healthy enough to undergo surgery.
Treatment: As long as the cancer has not spread to outside of the lung, it can be removed with surgical resection. There are now less invasive ways to remove cancer from the lungs, such as using a small video camera to see inside the chest, resulting in smaller incisions. There has very recently been a new way to treat non small cell lung cancer that would otherwise be inoperable. Shown to be more effective than normal radiation therapy and simply observing the cancers progress, stereotatic body radiation therapy can ???. Laser treatment is sometimes used to unblock air passages that are blocked by a tumour and attempt to control some spreading of the cancer cells. It is different to the other ‘treatments’ as it doesn’t actually provide a solution to getting rid of the cancer, but makes the symptoms more bearable for the patient.
Preventative Measures: The main way to avoid having lung cancer is not to smoke and to avoid taking in second hand smoke, but also stay away from radon...