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Lung Cancer Treatment
Types of Lung Cancer
You have two types of Lung Cancer. Another term for Lung Cancer is Bronchogenic Carcinoma. Here we see the types and staging of cancer.
Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC)
This form of Lung Cancer occurs more in men. The most probable cause is cigarette smoking. SCLC is the most aggressive form of Lung Cancer and accounts for 85% of all cancers.
- Adenocarcinoma: This is the most common form of Lung Cancer.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This accounts for about 28% of all cancers.
Stages of SCLC
- Stage I: The cancer is present only in the lungs and has not yet spread to the lymph nodes.
- Stage II: Cancer occurs in both the lungs and the lymph nodes.
- Stage III: In this stage, the cancer is locally advanced and is present in the lymph nodes in the centre of the chest and the lungs. In the IIIA type, cancer remains limited to the lymph nodes present on the same side of the chest where the lung is present. In the IIIB stage, cancer has spread to the opposite side of the chest also.
- Stage IV: This is the most advanced stage of cancer. We call it as advanced disease and it is present in both the lungs and the fluid surrounding the lungs. It might have spread to another part of the body such as the liver.
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)
You can see this type of Lung Cancer when the person is in his or her adulthood. The chances that they existed since birth is strong. This type of cancer accounts for 15% of all cancers.
Other than this, you might also see cases of communicating and non-communicating Lung cancer. When the Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) flows freely throughout the ventricular system of the brain and the subarachnoid space we call the condition as communicating Lung Cancer. If we see any physical block in the form of a tumour, then we call it non-communicating Lung Cancer.
You must treat Lung Cancer as soon as possible. Through this Lung Cancer treatment, the doctor will aim to remove the hazardous cancerous cells and stop their growth. You can do this in through a combination of treatments and medicines.
- Chemotherapy: Here, we use drugs to treat cancer. Chemotherapy can work throughout the body. So, they prefer this when the cancer has spread throughout the body. They give it as an infusion in a vein or at times they may give you chemotherapy pills. You can use chemotherapy as a follow up after you have had surgery or radiation.
- Radiation: Radiation therapy uses energy beams with high power to kill the cancer cells. Usually, these are X-rays or protons. You can direct these beams from outside your body. Or, you could put them in needles, seeds, or catheters and place them inside your body at the site of cancer (brachytherapy). You can use this to kill off any remaining cancer cells that remain after surgery. You may use it as a first course of treatment such as when tumour is small.
- Surgery: The aim of surgery is to remove all the cancer cells within the body. The surgeon will also remove a margin of the healthy tissues. The procedures to remove the cancer cells include the following:
- Lobectomy: In this, they remove the entire affected lung lobe.
- Segmental Resection: Here, they remove a part of the lung, in most cases a huge part, but not the entire section.
- Wedge Resection: In most cases, they remove a small section of the lung that has the cancer cells. Here you have plenty of healthy tissue also.
- Pneumonectomy: Here they remove an entire lung.
- Targeted Drug Therapy: This is a modern treatment option. The drugs used here target the abnormalities in the cells to do their work. The targeted therapy drugs find use along with the regular chemotherapy drugs. These drugs include Afatinib (Gilotrif), Bevacizumab (Avastin), Ceritinib (Zykadia), and Crizotinib (Xalkori) among many others.
The main cause is tobacco smoking. You might also develop Lung Cancer due to active smoking or passive smoking. Smoking causes 80% of the deaths due to Lung cancer. Passive smoking means staying in the room with a smoker. The other major contributor is air pollution. Living in a polluted city increases your risk of developing cancer.The major non-smoking cause for cancer is exposure to radon. Also, people with a history of Lung cancer have more chances of developing the disease.
Symptoms of Lung Cancer
- Weight loss
- A stubborn cough (often with blood)
- Chest pain
- Bone pain
- Breathing problem
- Weakness and fatigue
Medical Tests / Diagnosis
When the doctor suspects there is a possibility of cancer, he will order a series of tests. These will look for cancerous cells and will include one or more of the following:
- Imaging Tests: Here the doctor examines the X-ray image of your lungs. Any abnormal mass or nodule may show a tumour. Small lesions that do not show up on an X-ray will show up in a CT scan.
- Tissue Sample: This is otherwise known as a biopsy. They study the abnormal cells by collecting the tissue sample. The doctor may do the tissue sample through a bronchoscopy where he examines the abnormal cells of the lungs by inserting a tube containing a light through the throat into the lungs. He may also use the mediastinoscopy where they make an incision at the base of the neck and pass the surgical tools inside. They take tissue samples from behind the breastbone from the lymph nodes. CT scans and X-ray images help the doctor take the samples from the right place in the chest wall. The usual places where they take the biopsy include the liver.
- Sputum Cytology: If you have a cough and it is productive then they will collect the sputum and check it under the microscope. This will reveal the presence of cancer cells.
Factors Affecting the Cost of Lung Cancer Treatment
The things that will affect the cost of the treatment include the following:
- If the disease is localised, the treatment is easy and will not cost that much.
- When tumours have spread to other parts of the body through the blood, the cost of the treatment will go up.
- Smokers who are more than 50 years of age increase the risk arising due to surgery. The cost of the treatment increases with the size of the tumour and its location.
- In older patients, when it is not possible to remove the lung lobe, cancer confined to a small section of the lobe of the lung is removed. This could increase the cost of the therapy.