November marks Lung Cancer Awareness month and it is observed worldwide for supporting patients suffering from lung cancer, with great emphasis on advanced treatments available while dealing with this deadly pulmonary condition.
According to Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the number of cancer cases due to consumption of tobacco would be more than 4 lakhs amounting to whopping 27.2 percent of India’s total estimated cancer cases by 2025.
The prevalence of new lung cancer cases in India stand at 6.9 per cent and 9.3 per cent of cancer related deaths in both sexes.
Also Read:World Lung Cancer Day: Impact Of Covid-19 On People Suffering From This Cancerous Condition
What Is Lung Cancer?
Lungs are spongy, cone shaped organs located on either side of the chest that are responsible for optimum respiratory health. Lung cancer is a type of cancer that originates in tissues, the lining of the air passages of vital organ duo responsible for the intake of oxygen and exhalation of carbon dioxide. Though both lungs perform similar functions, they are slightly different in terms of physiological factors. While right lung consists of three lobes, left lung which is smaller in size has two lobes. Cancer of lungs is the second most diagnosed common condition in men and fifth most in both genders.
What Are The Types of Lung Cancer?
The two main types of lung cancer are:
Small Cell Lung Cancer
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer – with subtypes as adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, large cell or undifferentiated carcinoma.
What Are The Risk Factors of Lung Cancer?
Smoking cigarettes, tobacco in other forms is the chief reason behind a majority of lung cancer cases. Smokers are at highly prone to lung cancer than non-smokers and quitting the habit is the only way to reduce the risk factor.
Also known as second hand smoke, inhaling tobacco even passively increases the risk of lung cancer.
Radon Gas Exposure:
Radon is a radioactive gas that is present in rocks, soil and even in groundwater. Radon gas exposure happens when people breathe in the air that emits through cracks, gaps in the buildings and walls.
People born into a family with a history of lung cancer are also prone to it, as certain genetic mutations can trigger this particular cancer.
Inhalation of Carcinogens:
Exposure to certain carcinogens like arsenic, chromium, nickel at the workplace can increase the risk of lung cancer. This can worsen at a faster pace in those who are already into smoking.
What Are The Symptoms of Lung Cancer?
Shortness of breath is one of the primary symptoms complained by those suffering from lung cancer. Cancer cells growing in the airways, lead to fluid accumulation restricting full expansion of lungs during inhalation.
Blood in Sputum:
Hemoptysis or coughing up of blood is caused due to bleeding in the airways. The symptom can worsen as the cancer progresses.
Accumulation of fluid in the chest cavity triggers instant shortness of breath. Relief however can be provided by draining out fluids from the cavity and to further reduce the risk.
Lung cancer in its advanced stage spreads into the inner lining of the organs or can sometimes affect bones, causing intense pain. If you are experiencing pain in the chest region on both sides, talk to your doctor immediately.
How Is Lung Cancer Diagnosed?
Lung cancer is diagnosed by running a battery of imaging tests and co-relating it with the blood work.
Imaging tests like CT-Scan, MRI, PET-CT help in identifying even the tiniest among small lesions, reveal abnormal mass or nodule in the lungs.
Sputum cytology where mucus is observed under microscope for the presence of lung cancer cells.
Biopsy or collection of tissue sample aids in diagnosis of lung cancer. It is either done through bronchoscopy or mediastinoscopy. Bronchoscopy is done by inserting a catheter with a small light at the end through the throat, into the lungs and examining it for cancer cells, while mediastinoscopy involves making an incision at the base of neck, where surgical instruments are inserted for collecting samples from lymph nodes.
Biopsy samples reveal not only the presence of cancer cells, but if it had metastasized to lymph nodes or other areas in the body.
How Is Lung Cancer Treated?
Surgery is the first line of treatment while dealing with lung cancer. The surgeons may remove a small section of the lung, lobe or even an entire lung depending on the stage of cancer.
Radiation therapy forms an important part of cancer treatment. Often combined with chemotherapy, it can be done before or after surgery.
Chemotherapy plays a vital role in eliminating cancer cells in the lungs. It shrinks the size of cancer cells, making it easier to remove.
Other treatment options include immunotherapy, targeted drug therapy, depending on the patient’s condition.
Also Read:Kick The Butt Prevent Deadly Lung Cancer
How To Prevent Lung Cancer?
If you are a smoker, quit it right now. Studies reveal that kicking the butt provides instant positive results, boosts lung power and significantly reduces the risk of lung cancer. If you are a passive smoker, stay away from it.
Get your home tested for the presence of radon gas. Also protect yourself from getting exposed to dangerous carcinogenic gases at the workplace.
Avoid going out if the air is polluted. Grow some indoor plants for circulating fresh air in the house.
Regular workouts boost lung health. Practice yoga and other breathing exercises.
Practice healthy dietary and lifestyle habits. Eat fresh vegetables, fruits that are a powerhouse of various vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.