Lung Cancer treatment
Lung cancer refers to malignant tumours in the lung which can further spread throughout the body, if not treated at once. It is highly fatal and the main reason responsible is tobacco smoking and air pollution. The developed tumor could be malignant or benign and when we talk about cancer, we refer to the malignant tumor as it has the tendency to spread to other parts of the body. The tumor cells may enter the bloodstream or lymphatic system causing metastasis.
Types of lung cancer
1. Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC): About 12% of lung cancer diagnosed suffer from this form, which appears quite small and only be seen by microscope.
2. Non Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC): The rest of the lung cancer patients are diagnosed with this form, which consists of three parts, each behaving the same but response to treatment is different.
Causes of lung cancer
About 90% of lung cancer is correlated with consumption of tobacco in different forms such as cigarette smoking. Tobacco contains chemical compounds such as nitrosamines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and the consumption increases risks of lung cancer.
Exposure to asbestos is also a cause of lung cancer and workplace is quite a common place where a person could be exposed to such fibre.
Radon gas is yet another factor responsible for lung cancer and contribute to over 12% of deaths in the category in the US.
Familial predisposition: Even though smoking and tobacco usage are the major cause of lung cancer, the fact that non smokers also diagnosed with this defect proves other factors responsible as well such as genetic vulnerability. Other factors include lung disease, air pollution and past history of lung cancer.
Lung Cancer Treatment
The treatment of lung cancer begins by performing several tests on the patient to understand the sophistication and severeness of the defect. These tests include lung cancer tests, biopsy, sputum cytology, PET, bronchoscopy and mediastinoscopy. Several imaging tests are also done to detect disease spread. Some of these are CT Scan, Bone scan and thoracentesis.
After the tests, treatment option can be decided by the doctor after explaining you the results of the tests. These are:
- Surgery is an option, which is suitable for treating early stage cancer, but not appropriate for NSCLC that has spread across other parts.
- Chemotherapy is the most successful method of treating small cell lung cancer (SCLC), where proper medication such as intravenous is used which is injected into the bloodstream and destroys the tumor.
- Radiation therapy is also used to treat lung cancer where high energy X-rays kill the cancer cells and contract tumors. Radiation is commonly used along with surgery and chemotherapy.
- Other treatments include Laser therapy, Targeted therapy, Electrocautery, Radiofrequency ablation, Cryosurgery, Stents, Watchful waiting, Biological therapy and Photodynamic therapy.
Before going for treatment, make sure to ask about possible side effects you may receive. Complications of lung cancer treatment vary from type of healing method. Complications vary due to treatment options
Surgery: Coughing, tightness in chest, deep breathing, pain, weakness and excessive air and fluid in the chest are common side effects.
Chemotherapy: Hair loss, vomiting, nausea, headache, fatigue, etc. are some side effects you may experience.
Radiation therapy: Side effects are sore and dry throat, changes in skin along with similar complications as chemotherapy.
Photodynamic therapy: Patient may experience skin and eyes sensitivity for over six weeks after the treatment. Shortness of breath, swollen or blistering skin, trouble swallowing are some other side effects.
Post operative care
The patient will need to visit the doctor within 2 to 6 weeks after the treatment and then regular follow ups must be made at regular intervals.
Long term and late side effects are also quite usual in lung cancer treatment, so make sure to consult your doctor when you experience them. For early side effects, taking prescribed medication and following health advice would alone help you deal with them.
You may feel dizzy and weak for a couple of weeks, but then you can begin your daily activities that involve regular workout as well to aid you recover quickly.