Dr. Prasanna Kumar Thomas is the best pulmonologist in Chennai with over 40+ years of experience. Dr. Prasanna Kumar Thomas is a Senior Consultant Pulmonologist at MGM Healthcare, Chennai, and he specializes in treating lung cancer, upper and lower respiratory tract infections, interstitial lung disease, infectious disease treatment, pneumonia, and airway diseases.
Dr. Prasanna Kumar Thomas holds MBBS, MD, and Diploma in Tuberculosis and Chest Diseases from Madras Medical College, Chennai, and is a member of the Indian Medical Association, American Thoracic Society, European Respiratory Society, and Tamil Nadu Association of Pulmonologists. He has participated in several National Level Conferences and is an active public speaker against smoking. He is working with MGM Hospital, Chennai.
One of the most common forms of cancer, lung cancer is responsible for a majority of cancer deaths in the world. Lungs become prone to cell damage when they are exposed to toxins or chemicals in the air over prolonged periods.
Lung cancers are a mutation of the cells of the lungs where they grow in an uncontrolled manner forming tumors and reducing the capacity for air intake. The main types of lung cancers are:
- Small cell lung cancer or SCLC: Small cell lung cancer spreads fast and is usually associated with smoking. The small cell lung cancer is further categorized into:
- Oat Cell Cancer or Small Cell Carcinoma
- Combined Small Cell Carcinoma
- Non-small cell lung cancer: Non-small cell lung cancer spreads slower than the SCLC and can further be divided into:
- Adenocarcinoma: It is a cancer of the epithelial cells that form the lining of the lungs.
- Squamous cell carcinoma: These are cancers of the squamous cells and are typically formed near the airway.
- Large cell carcinoma: As the name suggests, the cancers have larger cells and can form anywhere in the lungs.
The symptoms of lung cancer are usually seen once the disease has advanced. Symptoms typically include:
- A cough that refuses to go away
- Trace amounts of blood in the sputum while coughing
- Pain, heaviness, difficulty in breathing
- Body or bone pain
- Persistent Headaches
- Hoarseness of voice
- Shortness of breath and/or wheezing
- Unexplained weight loss
- Fluid in the lungs
The diagnosis of cancer is not a one-test or single test process. It requires are series of tests to determine the presence of cancer cells, the location of the primary site, and its spread. Once a cancer diagnosis has been established, staging has to be done to determine the spread of the disease.
- X-ray: This is the first and foremost imaging test to ascertain any abnormalities in the lungs.
- CT-Scan: X-rays may not always show all cancers in the lungs as clearly as the CT Scan.
- MRI – This is a potent imaging test that is done to locate cancer and determine its spread to the brain or spine.
- PET Scan – The PET scan in combination with the CT Scan is used to determine the spread of the cancer cell in other parts of the body.
- Sputum Cytology – A sample of the mucus from the cough is tested for the presence of cancer cells. This test is particularly helpful for squamous cell lung cancers.
- Thoracentesis – In case there is an accumulation of fluid in the lungs, a needle is inserted in the lungs to draw out fluid and check for cancer cells.
- Biopsy: There are several types of biopsies such as FNA or Fine Needle Aspiration, transthoracic needle biopsy, etc that can be done for cancer diagnosis.
- Bronchoscopy – A fine thin tube called a bronchoscope is inserted in the abnormal area of the lungs to check for cancer.
Treatment of lung cancer depends on the type of cancer and its spread. The staging of cancer determines the treatment options available for a patient. Usually, treatment for lung cancers is a combination of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. However, treatment for small cell lung cancer usually does not include surgery.
Causes of Lung Cancer:
Smoking tops the list for risks of lung cancer. Other reasons may include:
- Secondhand smoke exposure or passive smoking
- Environmental exposure to cancer-causing materials such as asbestos, etc
- Genetic causes
Lung cancers are treatable and curable if detected early. Everyone today is exposed to toxins and can develop lung cancers. Regular health checkups can help screen for diseases and cancers, thereby, allowing early intervention when and if necessary.