Lung Cancer Guide

05/12/2022
Facts

80-90% of lung cancer death caused because of smoking.

Cancer in the lungs kills three times more men than prostate tumors.

Only 15% of lung tumors are detected when the survival rate is 53.5%.

Most patients with tumors in the lung are diagnosed when five years of survival is only 3.9%.

Icon overviewWhy having healthy lungs is so important?

If your lungs are healthy, you are less likely to have severe problems from respiratory illnesses like the common cold. Even though your body has a natural way of keeping dirt and germs away, you can do a few things to protect your lungs.

You may consider how vital it is to take care of your lungs once you have trouble breathing. Your lungs give you oxygen and keep every other organ in your body working by getting rid of carbon dioxide. Lung health depends on genes, diseases, and the environment, all of which can lead to breathing problems.

Icon editWhat is lung cancer?

What is lung cancer?Lung cancer can start in the trachea, bronchi, or pulmonary tissue. When cancer starts in the lungs, this is called the primary one. Secondary lung cancer spreads to the lungs from other organs. The best way of lung cancer treatment will depend on what tumor kind it is.

There are two major types:

  • Non-small cell lung cancer is the prevalent type. It makes up about 90% of lung neoplasms that are found. Serous carcinoma and mucinous carcinoma are two of the most common types.
  • Small cell lung cancer is not as common as others, but t it spreads much faster, so it needs advanced lung cancer treatment options.

Return to the numbers

Lung cancer is one of the types of oncology diseases that can kill. It causes more deaths yearly than breast, prostate, and colon cancers. Lung cancer is the most common cancer in men and the second one in women. More than 2.5 million new lung cancer cases were found worldwide in 2021. Lung cancer and other oncology diseases can happen to anyone. Still, the main reason for 90% of lung cancer cases is smoking. As soon as you breathe in smoke, it starts to hurt your lungs. So, it makes the chance of getting a tumor in the lung become much higher.

Icon searchWhat about the causes and the risk factors?

Lung cancer is one of the few types of cancer whose cause is well known. And everyone can need lung cancer treatment; however, several things increase your chances of developing it:

Smoking. The most significant risk factor. Tobacco usage is responsible for 9 out of 10 cases of lung cancer in men and approximately 8 out of 10 in women. The sooner you begin smoking, the longer you smoke, and the more cigarettes you smoke daily, the higher your risk of getting lung cancer treatment. It is further increased if you smoke frequently, consume alcohol daily, or take beta-carotene supplements. If you have quit smoking, your risk is lower than if you have continued to smoke. You will, however, be a more significant threat than persons who have never smoked.

Secondhand smoke is the combination of smoke from a cigarette and smoke expelled by a smoker. You are exposed to the same dangerous chemicals as smokers when inhaling them, albeit in smaller doses. At the same time, 60-65% of people in the US need lung cancer treatment even if they have never smoked.

Family history. People with first-degree relatives are about 50% more likely to get lung cancer than people without it. This connection is not changed by gender, race, type, or other recognized risk factors.

Other factors. Workplace exposure to asbestos, arsenic, chromium, beryllium, nickel, and soot. Pollution of the atmosphere. Radiation in the cases of breast or chest radiation therapy CT scans and other imaging tests, radon contamination in the home or workplace.

Can we avoid cancer of the lungs?

Of course, we can't change the family history or genes. But here are some things you can do to lower your risk:

Don't smoke. That causes most lung cancer deaths. The best way to avoid getting lung tumors is never to start smoking or quit if you already do.

Avoid being around smoke. Someone else's cigarettes, cigars, or pipes in your home or car can be dangerous. Don't let anyone do it.

Get a radon test for your home.

Watch out at work. Guidelines for health and safety at work can help employees avoid carcinogens or things that can raise the risk of getting lung cancer and treatment for it.

Icon symptomsWhat are the signs and symptoms?

Most of the time, lung cancer doesn't cause any in its early stages. Instead, the disease makes symptoms appear as it gets worse. And the main signs are

  • A cough that lasts for two to three weeks and gets worse over time and often brings up blood;
  • Infectious lung diseases that come back after being treated;
  • Constant short breath, breathing pain, or coughing;
  • Loss of appetite,
  • Weight loss for no apparent reason,
  • Lack of energy and tiredness.

If you notice these signs, see a doctor. Early detection saves lives.

Icon microscopeWhat is the diagnostic process?

Several tests determine if someone has a malignant neoplasm and needs lung cancer treatment. These show what size the tumor is and how fast it is growing and answer the question does it spread or not. These things are:

A chest X-ray is when high-energy rays are used to make pictures of the inside of the body. Changes in the lungs can be seen in pictures.

Endobronchial ultrasound: An ultrasonic sensor is put through the trachea, and the surface of the respiratory tract, blood vessels, and lungs, are all seen.

Computer tomography, or CT scan, is a test that uses X-rays and a computer. The device takes many clear pictures of the lungs from different angles, and the computer turns them into a 3D image. Doctors use these pictures also to plan lung cancer treatment.

An MRI scan (magnetic resonance imaging) creates a cross-section of the body using a strong magnet and radio waves. Because of this, the soft straight lungs are very easy to see.

A PET-CT, positron emission tomography, combines PET and CT studies. That gives much information on complex sets of X-rays of the whole body taken during the test. At the same time, a radioactive drug is injected into the body. It helps to show how abnormally cancerous cells are acting.

During the bronchoscopy, a long, flexible tube called a bronchoscope is put into the airway. The end of the bronchoscope has a light and a camera. A doctor looks at the inside of the respiratory system and can also take a tissue sample for a biopsy. It is also essential for further lung cancer treatment.

During a biopsy, a small piece of lung tissue is taken with the help of a thin needle for further study under a microscope.

Cytological study of sputum: Sputum, which is made in the lungs and airways, is looked at under a microscope to see if it has any malignant cells. It can be taken while expectorating, coughing, or doing a bronchoscopy.

A molecular test analyzes tissue from a biopsy to look for specific gene changes in tumor cells. The test will help determine better medication for lung cancer treatment (definition of targeted drugs).

What is the diagnostic process?

The doctor may order one or more of the tests that have been suggested. All of this is needed to determine the signs, if there is a cancerous tumor, how big it is, and how much it has spread to other organs. These numbers are needed to determine the stage and devise a plan for lung cancer treatments. Each case will be considered choosing the best option.

Where to go to get lung cancer treatment?

Icon doctorCan lung cancer be cured successfully?

At the early stage, the chances are higher. However, the success of the treatment of lung cancer depends on many other things. There are types and mutations, size and location, and the patient's general health. Based on these things, a treatment plan will be chosen. A mix of the following ideas will be put forward.

People who need non-small cell lung cancer treatments can be cured with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, or a mix of these options. Most of the time, radiation and chemo are used to treat people with small-cell lung cancer.

Most used methods:

Surgery. An operation in which cancerous tissue is cut out. Surgery is what's known as a thoracotomy. During it, the surgeon takes out the lung tumor and the neighboring cells and lymph nodes. The cut is performed on the side of the chest. It makes the ribs bend again and gives the surgeon access to the lung.

Chemotherapy. Oncologists use special meds to make tumors go away or kill them. The drugs can come in the form of pills or injections, or sometimes both. These act systemically, destroying cancer separated from the lung and affecting other organs.

Immunotherapy, also known as immuno-oncology, uses the immune system in lung cancer treatment. When cells become cancerous, they change in ways the immune system recognizes as foreign. Immune drugs help the body find these cells and kill them.

Targeted (personalized) medicine uses drugs to stop malignant cells from growing and spreading by finding medications that affect cell connections. Drugs used in target therapy can kill changed cells with specific mutations that cause malignant growth. So, the method is safe for healthy tissues because it finds and kills cancer cells. Before this treatment is used, patients will have tests to see if it suits their tumor type.

Therapy with radiation. X-ray-like high-energy rays kill the changed cells that grow out of control, decreasing the tumor.

For lung cancer treatment, doctors from different fields often work together. Pulmonologists are doctors who know a lot about lung diseases. Thoracic surgeons are experts in surgery on the chest, heart, and lungs; oncologists use medicines and radiation.

We are ready to find you each of these specialists or places.

The most suitable places to get treated

Icon plusWhat are the new treatments for lung cancer?

In recent years, there has been a steady and significant drop in patients dying. It's because effective lung cancer treatment and early diagnosis have improved. Unfortunately, only 16% of cases are found early. Since the lungs are an organ inside the body, symptoms don't show up until the disease worsens. Researchers worldwide are working hard to find the best ways to treat lung cancer.

Transpulmonary chemoembolization (TPCE), also called "local chemotherapy," puts drugs directly into the tumor focus through the blood vessels that feed lung cancer. Compared to "classic" chemo, this method allows 20 times more cytotoxic drugs into the body. Because of this, the tumor tissue gets thinner.

Transpulmonary chemoperfusion (TPCP): anti-tumor drugs are injected directly into the tumor through blood vessels. It ensures that the cancer cells get the medicine for a longer time and at a higher concentration.

Ablation therapy (RFA, MWA, ethanol): needle electrodes send heat to the lung tumor. It leads to the neoplasm getting thin due to lung cancer treatment.

Proton therapy is a radiotherapy in which a beam of radiation (protons) with a certain amount of radiation is sent straight to the tumor. Protons go right through healthy tissues and only hurt malignant cells.

Video-assisted thoracic surgery, or VATS: This method uses one to four minor cuts to get inside the chest. The surgeon uses a camera to look at the lung and special tools to do the operation.

Robotized thoracic surgery, or RATS, is a minimally invasive way to treat lung cancer. When the surgery is done with a robotic system, the operator can see it in three dimensions, which improves accuracy.

Even though lung cancer is still hazardous, there is much hope for new treatments. For example, due to National Cancer Institute, death among US men from non-small lung cancer decreased by 3.2% from 2006 to 2013 and 6.3% from 2013 to 2016 each year.

Who is specialized in lung cancer treatment?

Prof. Dr. med. Christian Brandts image
hematology, oncology, cancer researchers and palliative care
Prof. Dr. med. Tho­mas J. Vogl image
diagnostic and interventional radiology

Icon chartOther stats and predictions

The American Cancer Society says that 63% of people with localized lung cancer that hasn't spread beyond the lung will still be alive after five years. The 5-year survival rate for the regional disease is about 35%. It is when cancer spreads from the lung to nearby lymph nodes. When cancer spreads to other body parts (called metastatic lung cancer), only 7% of people will still be alive after five years. People with metastatic lung cancer can live longer than ever, thanks to new lung cancer treatments.

Other stats and predictions

Hearing that you have lung cancer is scary. But because of improvements in treatment, people are living longer and better. The AiroMedical team chooses the best plan for each patient and includes the latest advances in the best lung cancer treatment.

References:

  1. American Cancer Society: What Is Lung Cancer?
  2. National Foundation for Cancer Research: Why is Lung Cancer So Deadly?
  3. NHS: Causes - Lung cancer
  4. Cancer.Net: Just Diagnosed With Lung Cancer: Answers from an Expert
  5. Healthline Media: Lung Cancer: Everything You Need to Know
  6. Cancer Research UK: Lung cancer
  7. American Lung Association: Targeted Therapies for Lung Cancer