Published January 27, 2012
Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death. It accounts for almost a third of cancer deaths each year in the United States. Lung cancer begins in the lungs and can spread to other organs of the body such as lymph nodes or your brain. The two main types of lung cancer are small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. Both kinds develop differently and therefore necessitate different treatment methods. Small cell lung cancer is not as prevalent as non-small cell lung cancer. Cigarette smoking is the primary cause of lung cancer. Mortality rates are actually decreasing as cigarette smoking decreases, but other forms of tobacco use, asbestos exposure, secondhand smoke and air pollution all increase your likelihood of developing lung cancer.
People with early lung cancer often do not exhibit any symptoms. Therefore, it often spreads before a person is diagnosed. According to the University of Maryland’s Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center, you should visit a doctor if you exhibit the following symptoms: a persistent cough or chest pain, a wheezing sound when breathing, shortness of breath, coughing up blood, hoarseness and swelling in the face and neck. You may also experience repeated spells of pneumonia or swollen lymph nodes. According to the National Cancer Institute, most people are over 65 years of age when diagnosed with lung cancer.
Screening for lung cancer is a controversial issue among medical specialists. Sometimes screening detects benign tumors, which could result in unnecessary surgery. Since surgery carries its own risks, if the screening cannot detect whether the tumor is cancerous, it could cause more harm than good. Other times, screening can absolutely save lives, especially if you exhibit symptoms of lung cancer. CT scans and other diagnostic tests allow doctors to detect lung lesions in people without symptoms of lung cancer, reports the University of Maryland’s Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center. Depending on the stage of your lung cancer you will need particular types and/or a combination of treatment.
Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stereotactic radiotherapy and targeted therapy are different treatments for lung cancer. In surgery, doctors cut out the cancer. In chemotherapy, doctors use drugs to kill the cancer. In radiation therapy, doctors use energy rays to kill the cancer. In sterotactic radiotherapy, doctors accurately shoot high doses of radiation to cancer tumors. In targeted therapy, doctors use drugs to block the growth of cancer. Side effects from lung cancer may include hair loss, weight loss, vomiting, nausea and vomiting.