Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in one or both lungs. While normal lung tissue cells reproduce and develop into healthy lung tissue, these abnormal cells reproduce rapidly and never grow into normal lung tissue. Agglomeration of cancerous cells forms a tumour that disrupt the lung, making it difficult to function properly.

Diagnosis of Lung Cancer

Early detection of lung cancer is critical to improving chances of survival. Physicians use a number of different tests to detect and diagnose lung cancer, including sophisticated imaging scans that provide more accurate and sensitive results than conventional X-rays. The information from these tests enables the physician to determine the type and stage of the cancer and the best way to treat it. The tests include:

Physical Examination – Physical examination is important for detecting any signs of cancer such as swollen lymph nodes in the neck or collarbone area and also for evaluating over all state of health.

Chest examination – Examining the chest and listening to the lungs with a stethoscope provides information about abnormal breathing sounds or patterns.

Chest X-ray-X-rays are “flat” pictures of the lungs, which help to identify abnormal growths.

CT scan – Computed tomography also known as CAT scan is a sophisticated instrument that uses a computer to create a two-dimensional scan from a series of X-ray images; the newest version of the CT is called a helical (or spiral) scan. CT scans reveal much more detail than x-rays and the new helical scans are even more sensitive than regular CT scans.

PET-scan – Positron Emission Tomography is a scan that traces the way the body cells act on sugar. PET scans can find cancerous tumours because of their ability to take up radioactive sugar.

MRI Magnetic Resonance Imaging is similar to a CT scan except it uses a magnetic field in place of X-rays to create an image.

Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of lung cancer may take years to appear and are often confused with symptoms of less serious conditions. Signs and symptoms may not appear until the disease reaches an advanced stage.

Chest Signs & Symptoms:

  • Smoker’s cough that persists or becomes intense.
  • Non-smoker’s cough that persists for more than two weeks
  • Persistent chest, shoulder, or back pain unrelated to pain from coughing
  • Change in color of sputum .
  • Increase in volume of sputum
  • Blood in sputum .
  • Wheezing
  • Recurrent pneumonia or bronchitis.Other signs and symptoms of lung cancer may not be respiratory in nature
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache, bone pain, aching joints .
  • Bone fractures not related to accidental injury
  • Neurological symptoms (e.g., unsteady gait and/or episodic memory loss)
  • Neck and facial swelling .
  • Unexplained weight loss.

There also may be signs and symptoms caused by the spread of lung cancer to other parts of the body. Depending on which organs are affected, these can include headaches, general weakness, pain, bone fractures, bleeding, or blood clots. Anyone experiencing these signs or symptoms should

Types of Cancer

The two main types of lung cancer are non-small cell (80% of all cases) and small cell (20% of all cases).

The names refer to the kinds of cells that make up the tumour rather than the size of the tumour.

Non-small Cell Lung Cancer

Non-small cell lung cancer is classified into three subtypes:

  1. Adenocarcinomas- found in the mucus glands.
  2. Squamous or epidermoid carcinoma located in the bronchial tubes
  3. Large cell carcinoma found near the surface.

Lung cancer almost always begins in one lung and, if left untreated, can spread to lymph nodes or other tissues in the chest (including the other lung). Lung cancer can also metastasize (or spread) throughout the body, to the bones, brain, liver, or other organs.

Small Cell Lung Cancer

Small cell lung cancer is highly associated with smoking and grows and spreads quickly.

There are two stages of the disease: limited and extensive.

Statistics

  • Almost 339.000 new cases were diagnosed with cancer in 2001, representing 26% of all new cases of cancer.
  • Almost 314.000 romanians will die of lung cancer in 2002, representing 56% of all cancer deaths .
  • Annually the lung cancer cause the deaths of more women and men than the prostate, breast and colon cancer all together .
  • Meanwhile the incidence of cancer around the world is going down, the incidence of lung cancer among the women is rising continuos.
  • Between 1960 and 1990 the deaths related to lung cancer among the women raised with almost 40%. .

Treatment

New treatment options have increased lung cancer survival rates significantly over the past several decades.

There are three main forms of treatment:

Surgery: operation to remove tumour (and surrounding tissue, section or entire lung).

Chemotherapy: treatment with anti-cancer drugs to shrink or destroy tumour

Radiation therapy: treatment using high-

More than 87% of lung cancers are smoking related. However, not all smokers develop lung cancer.Quitting smoking reduces an individual’s risk significantly,although former smokers remain at greater risk for lung cancer than people who never smoked. Exposure to other carcinogens such as asbestos and radon gas also increases an individual’s risk, especially when combined with cigarette or cigar smoking.

Lung cancer risk factors include:

  • cigarette smoking;
  • exposure to certain industrial substances, such as arsenic;
  • some organic chemicals;
  • radon and asbestos;
  • radiation exposure from occupational, medical and environmental sources;
  • air pollution;
  • tuberculosis;
  • environmental tobacco smoke.

Men who regularly smoke are 20 times more exposed to the risk of lung cancer death and women more than 12 times.

Nonsmokers diagnosed with lung cancer are usually women.

Studies show that, at the same level of exposure to tobacco, the risk of lung cancer is bigger at women than on men

The reduction of the risk is only visible 5 years after the interruption of smoking.

As long as the abstinence is extended, the risk is getting lower, but even so, the smokers who quit smoking have an increased risk compared to the nonsmokers.