Lung Cancer Symptoms, Causes, Stages and Treatment 2023
Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer death in the United States in both men and women, and it is the second most common cause of cancer. In this blog post, I’m going to give an overview of lung cancer. I’ll talk about the leading causes, the symptoms, the staging, and the treatments. Keep reading.
Walt Disney, the creator of Mickey Mouse and all things Disney, was a smoker, and he developed lung cancer. However, you can be a nonsmoker and still get lung cancer. Diana Reeve was an actor, a singer, and the wife of Superman, Christopher Reeve. She developed lung cancer, and she had never smoked a cigarette in her life.
What exactly is Lung Cancer?
Lung cancer occurs when lung cells change or mutate, and they begin growing and dividing uncontrollably. As these mutated cancer cells stack up on one another, they form a mass or a tumor. If cancer cells from this tumor break off and get into the bloodstream, you can develop metastatic lung cancer.
There are two main types of lung cancer:
- small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.
- Non-small cell lung cancer makes up about 85% of lung cancers, and there are four types of non-small-cell lung cancer: squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, carcinoid tumor, and large cell lung cancer.
What are the leading causes of lung cancer?
Well, smoking tobacco is the leading cause of developing lung cancer. In fact, 90% of people with lung cancer are smokers or former smokers.
2. Secondhand Smoke
Secondhand smoke also puts you at risk for developing lung cancer. So, if you are living with a smoker, you have an increased risk. And for your parents who smoke cigarettes in front of your children, yes, you are increasing your child’s risk of developing lung cancer.
3. Environmental exposures
If you have been exposed to things like asbestos, radon, certain metals like arsenic and chromium. This can increase your chances of developing lung cancer. Also, if you’ve had a type of cancer in the past and you’ve received radiation therapy, that radiation exposure can also increase your risk of developing lung cancer.
Symptoms of Lung Cancer
The symptoms of lung cancer can be vast. They can be caused by direct pressure of the cancer on organs and organ systems. They can be caused by lung cancer actually invading blood vessels or compressing nerves.
– Paraneoplastic syndromes
The symptoms can also be caused by paraneoplastic syndromes, or you can get symptoms from organs even when the cancer itself has not directly spread to those organs. There are a number of symptoms that can be caused by these paraneoplastic syndromes. Symptoms can include high blood pressure, weight gain, and developing a round or a moon face. You can get weakness, bone pain, kidney stones. Depending on the paraneoplastic syndrome, you may develop.
One common symptom is a cough. A cough is a very common symptom of lung cancer. In fact, it occurs in over 75% of patients with lung cancer. Hemoptysis is another symptom. Hemoptysis is the coughing up of blood, and it often occurs when lung cancer has invaded blood vessels.
– Shortness of breath
Another symptom of lung cancer is shortness of breath. Also, you can get chest pain, and a hoarse voice.
– Superior vena cava syndrome
The superior vena cava syndrome can also lead to symptoms of lung cancer. The superior vena cava or SVC syndrome occurs when lung cancer causes an obstruction or blockage to the flow of the superior vena cava, or that very large vessel returning blood to the heart. Symptoms include facial swelling, neck swelling, and shortness of breath.
what is the treatment for lung cancer?
The treatment really depends on the staging of lung cancer and the type of lung cancer. For small cell lung cancer, most of the time, by the time small-cell lung cancer is discovered, it has already spread in over 60% of cases. And in that case, there will be a role for chemotherapy and/or radiation.
In general, there are four stages of lung cancer.
– Stage 1 lung cancer
This means that there has been a single lesion found in one lobe of the lung, and there are no signs of spread to any lymph nodes or any other area. In that case, the treatment can be a surgical resection or removal of the affected lobe of the lung.
– Stage 2 lung cancer
There is a single spot that has been found in one lobe of the lung, but there are also signs of some local spread to a local lymph node. In this case, there’s also a role for surgical resection of that lobe, but there may also be a role for chemotherapy.
– Stage 3 lung cancer
There is a spot in the lobe of the lung, and there are signs of local invasion in lymph nodes. But in stage 3, the cancer has actually spread outside of the lobe, and lymph nodes have been found to have lung cancer in the mediastinum or out in the center of the chest, and in that subcarinal area or that area that’s right underneath the windpipe or the trachea. In this case, when the cancer has already spread into the middle of the chest, the mediastinum, surgery has a limited role or no role, and chemotherapy is a treatment for stage 3 lung cancer.
– Stage 4 lung cancer
The cancer has spread outside of the lungs and outside of the chest. So, beyond having a spot of lung cancer in the lungs, it has spread beyond being local, it has spread beyond the mediastinum or the chest, and it is now outside of the lungs and in the system; it is metastatic. Some popular places for lung cancer to metastasize in stage 4 include the bones, the liver, and the brain. In stage 4, again, there’s really no role for surgery, just like in stage 3. Chemotherapy and radiation will be the treatments of choice.
This ends my overview of lung cancer.
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