Dealing with Lung Cancer

lung cancer

What is Lung Cancer?

Just as the name implies, lung cancer begins in the lungs β€” the spongy organs in the chest that take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. Lung cancer a leading cause of death in the United States, claiming more lives than prostate, colon, breast, and ovarian and some other types of cancer. Even though smokers are more likely to suffer it, non-smokers are also at risk of lung cancer. People who stop smoking too may be at risk of lung cancer years after.

Types of Lung Cancer

The most common type of lung cancer is non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which constitutes about 70 to 75 percent of lung cancer cases. Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) on the other hand, grows and spreads faster than NSCLC, making SCLC less likely to respond to treatment, and more likely to respond to chemotherapy. There are cases where lung cancer tumors contain both NSCLC and SCLC cells.
Another type of lung cancer is mesothelioma, which is linked to asbestos exposure. Asbestos exposure occurs when microscopic asbestos fibers are inhaled. Even though the body gets rid of them, some get stuck in the lungs.

Sadly, lung cancer in its early stage shares symptoms with flu and similar conditions, so it isn`t usually diagnosed early. This is an issue.

Stages of Lung Cancer

Cancer is categorized, based on how far it spreads. It is always better to treat any kind of cancer early. Many times, lung cancer gets late treatment due to late diagnosis.

NSCLC has four main stages, while SCLC has two stages. Let us discuss them.

Stages of NSCLC

  • Stage 1

Cancer is only in the lung.

  • Stage 2

Cancer is in the lung and also close to lymph nodes.

  • Stage 3

Cancer is in the lung and spreads to lymph nodes in the middle of the chest.

  • Stage 3A

Cancer is in the lymph nodes, but only on the side of the chest where it first started growing.

  • Stage 3B

Cancer either spreads to the lymph nodes on the opposite side of the chest, or to lymph nodes above the collarbone.

  • Stage 4

Cancer spreads to initially unaffected lung, into the area around the lungs, and sometimes even to distant organs.

Stages of SCLC

  • The Limited Stage

Cancer is in one lung or around the lymph node on the same side of the chest.

  • The Extensive Stage

In this stage, cancer:

  • Covers an entire lung
  • Spreads to the opposite lung
  • Spreads to lymph nodes on the opposite side
  • Spreads to distant organs
  • Spreads to bone marrow
  • Spreads to the fluid around the lungs

Two out of three people who go for diagnosis are already at the extensive stage of SCLC.

Symptoms of Lung Cancer

NSCLC and SCLC have similar symptoms; however, some symptoms come with various stages.

Early Symptoms of Lung Cancer

  • Shortness of breath
  • Severe cough
  • Blood-stained cough
  • Chest pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Wheezing
  • Fatigue
  • Respiratory infections

Severe Symptoms of Cancer

The level of cancer spread (the extent to which new tumors form) determines the severity of the symptoms. Here are some of the severe symptoms.

  • Lumps in the neck or collarbone if cancer spreads to the lymph nodes.
  • Pain in the ribs, back, and hips when cancer spreads to the bones.
  • Headache, dizziness, and numbness in arms or legs, If cancer spreads to the brain or spine.
  • Jaundice, if cancer spreads to the liver

Lung Cancer and Back Pain

lung cancer and back pain

Lung pain and back pain may or may not be related. When they are, it is as a result of the pressure of large tumors that grow in the lungs, or cancer that spreads to the spine or ribs. This back pain comes with numbness and weakness of the arms and legs, urinary and bowel incontinence, and interference with spinal blood supply. The back pain may reduce after chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation.

Without treatment, back pain caused by cancer will worsen. You may shrink or completely take out the tumor through a treatment such as surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. You could use pain relievers in addition. Acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or opioids such as oxycodone or morphine may be helpful. Doctor`s prescription remains inevitable.

Causes of Lung Cancer

Smoking

smoker

Anyone can suffer lung cancer, really; however, smokers and people with a history of smoking constitute about 90% of lung cancer sufferers.
Smoking causes damage to the lung tissue. The lungs can repair the damage, however, prolonged exposure to smoke can be so overwhelming that the lungs can`t keep up with the repair.

Passive Smoking

Inhaling secondhand tobacco smoke increases the risk factor of lung cancer. A whopping 7,500 lung cancer deaths occur annually in the U.S. as a result of passive smoking.

Asbestos Fibers

These are silicate fibers could stick to the lung tissue for a long time after exposure to asbestos. They cause lung cancer after a prolonged presence.

History of Lung Cancer

People who have a history of lung cancer have a possibility of having it again, in fact, a higher possibility than those who never did.

Air Pollution

Prolonged exposure to air pollution from machines, vehicles, and other sources can increase the risk of lung cancer.

Radon Gas

Radon gas is one of the causes of lung cancer. It is a natural gas, and a decay product of uranium. When it decays, it forms products that emit a type of ionizing radiation. It is harmful to inhale it. It is responsible for about 12% of lung cancer deaths.

Lung Diseases

People who have lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have an increased risk of lung cancer.

How to Treat Lung Cancer

You should consult a doctor`s to treat lung cancer. There are specialists who attend to lung cancer cases. Some of them are:

  • A thoracic surgeon (one who specializes in treating the chest and lungs)
  • A pulmonologist (a lung specialist)
  • A medical oncologist
  • A radiation oncologist

Here`s how to treat specific types of lung cancer:

How to Treat NSCLC

Do you remember NSCLC? β€” Non-small cell lung cancer

  • Stage 1 NSCLC

You may undergo surgery to remove a portion of the lung and perhaps undergo chemotherapy too.

  • Stage 2 NSCLC

You may undergo chemotherapy and a surgery to remove part or the entire lung.

  • Stage 3 NSCLC

This stage may require a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatment.

  • Stage 4 NSCLC

Cure at this stage is such a challenge. Cancer experts may try chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, surgery, and radiation.

Treatment for small cell lung cancer (SCLC) include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery (in rare cases).

Home Remedies for Lung Cancer

Home remedies will not cure lung cancer, however, they will relieve some of its symptoms. As always, check with your doctor if you can use these home remedies.

Massage

massage

A massage can relieve pain and anxiety. It makes lung cancer patients feel better. Some massage experts are particularly skilled at attending to lung cancer patients.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture eases nausea, pain, and vomiting. Note that acupuncture is not safe for people who have low blood counts or those who take blood thinners.

Meditation

Meditation is good for managing stress and general relaxation.

Hypnosis

Hypnosis is good for relaxation, relieving pain, reducing nausea, and managing anxiety.

Yoga

Yoga improves sleep and general health.