Lung Cancer – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
Lung cancer is considered one of the deadliest types of cancer and the most commonly diagnosed cancer-related disease.
According to credible surveys, as of 2008, lung cancer caused more than 1.38 million deaths on an annual basis world over. Although, the prognosis for this type of cancer is quite poor, still medical research has shown that about 15 percent of lung cancer patients survive up to five years after being diagnosed. Understanding the basic function of human body in terms of cell production is important to understand lung cancer. Human body has a proper system under which new cells are produced when required but when this system malfunctions it leads to the growth of a mass known as a ‘tumor’.
Not too many people know but such tumors can be harmless as well as malignant, and it is only the latter type that causes cancer by instigating growth over to other to other parts of the body. From sub-types of cancer, ‘adenocarcinoma’ is arguably the deadliest and most commonly found as research has proven that nearly 40% of overall lung cancer patients have lung cancer.
Basically, lung cancer is caused after genetic damage is caused to the DNA handicapping human body’s important cell functions such as cell proliferation, DNA repair and apoptosis. Smoking is the biggest contributor to the menace of lung cancer world over by a long distance as up to 90 percent of reported cases of lung cancer are caused bydirect or passive smoking.
Smoking of cigarettes contains the biggest risk of contracting lung cancer as compared to cigars and pipes because cigarettes contain 60 known carcinogens. On the other hand, some researchers even claim smokers (people who live or work with smokers) are more likely to suffer from lung cancer. Statistics don’t disapprove of this notion, as nearly 3,400 people die annually in the US due to passive smoking.
However, the risk of contracting lung cancer also largely depends on genetics as research shows that people related to patients of lung cancer are more susceptible to contracting this disease irrespective of the smoking habits. In up to 25% cases, patients show no symptoms of lung cancer until their disease is accidentally discovered in an X-Ray or CT scan. In other cases
Common symptoms include a persistent cough, coughing up blood, chest pain, hoarseness in throat, shortening of breath and respiratory infections. Doctors decide what type of treatment will be applied in a certain case taking into consideration the stage of cancer, its location and the patient’s ability to withstand tough treatment. Surgery is mostly performed in non-small cell lung carcinoma as long as it has not already spread beyond the lung.
Up to 35 percent of lung cancers can be surgically removed, while in other cases adjuvant therapy such as chemotherapy is applied to relieve symptoms and lessen the patient’s pain. Radiation therapy is used in both small cell and non-small cell lung carcinoma in order to destroy cancerous cells using x-rays. Patients suffering with recurrent lung cancer (cancer that recurs after initial treatment/surgery) are subjected to a second-line of chemotherapy for treatment as recurrent tumors remain unaffected with previously applied drugs and chemotherapy.
Doctors mostly use platinum-based drugs to treat lung cancer patients and the effectiveness of these drugs has been clinically proven.