Lung Cancer

  • Overview

  • Symptoms

  • Diagnosis

  • Treatment

Overview

Cancer can occur either in the lungs or the air tubes leading to the lungs called bronchi. Though smokers are said to be at greater risk for developing this disease, it can also occur in non-smokers. Small cell lung cancer develops in the cells surrounding the air tubes that lead from the wind pipe to the lungs. Non-small lung cancer forms in the lining of the lungs and is the most common of lung cancer.

Early Symptoms

 The first sign of a lung cancer is often an abnormal spot on a chest X-ray or CT scan taken for some other medical issue. Physical symptoms can be one or more of the following:

  • Chest pain
  • Coughing, especially with phlegm, blood or mucus
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Appetite loss

However, these symptoms do not necessarily indicate lung cancer. If you experience them, consult a doctor to eliminate the possibility of a tumour or to get an early diagnosis.

Diagnosis

Biopsy: Testing a tissue sample of the abnormal growth is the best method to determine the occurrence of lung cancer. The doctor will select the biopsy method depending on the location of the tumour, If the tissue is not accessible through these methods, a surgery may be required.

Molecular Testing: For patients with non-small cell lung cancer, molecular testing of tumour tissue can reveal important information about the stage and prognosis, enabling the medical team to develop a more targeted treatment plan.

Treatment

Surgery: To eradicate the entire cancerous growth, the surgeon removes the portion of the lung with the tumour and the surrounding lymph nodes. Depending on the size, location and metastasis of the tumour, one of three types of surgery will be performed.

  • Sublobar Surgery: This operation removes part of the diseased lung in one of lobes either when the tumour is quite small and localized or when the patient is ineligible for a bigger procedure.
  • Lobectomy: A lobectomy is the most common type used for localized non-small lung cancer. There are two lobes in the left lung and three in the right. A lobectomy removes an entire lobe; a bilobectomy removes two lobes of the right lung.
  • Pneumonectomy: If the tumour is located in the centre of the lung and cannot be extracted with one of the above procedures, the entire lung may be removed. It is only performed on patients who could live without supplemental oxygen. Fortunately, this is a rare type of surgery.

Thoracoscopy: Many lung cancer surgeries can be performed with minimally invasive techniques like Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS) or robotic VATS.

Chemotherapy: Drugs are the primary treatment for non-small cell lung cancer. It may be they may be injected before and after the surgery. For small cell tumours, chemotherapy may be combined with radiation therapy

Immunotherapy: New drugs are continually being developed, which can empower the body’s immune system to recognize the cancer cells and fight them.

Radiation Therapy: This treatment is usually given to patients whose tumours are confined to the lungs but cannot be surgically removed. It is also used as a palliative to improve the quality of a patient’s life if surgery and chemotherapy are ineffective.

Interventional Radiology: Some patients with non-small cell ling cancer may not be fit candidates for radiation therapy or surgery. In such cases, a minimally invasive procedure known as percutaneous ablation is performed: Under anaesthesia, CT imaging guides a needle into the tumour, which applies extreme cold or heat into it  and destroys it.