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Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer Treatment in Huntsville Alabama and Other Locations

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer kills more men and women than any other type of cancer. It is also the second most common cancer for both groups. More men and women die from lung cancer each year than colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. Although lung cancer is one of the more difficult cancers to treat, many patients who caught the cancer early have been cured of the disease. Early detection of lung cancer can increase survival rates by 20%! The National Cancer Institute recommends a lung cancer screening for patients that meet certain criteria. Please consult your healthcare provider to decide if you are eligible for the screen.

The following are common symptoms of lung cancer. The presence of one or more of these symptoms may or may not be due to cancer. It may be due to other underlying health care issues. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • A new cough that doesn’t go away
  • Changes in a chronic cough or “smoker’s cough”
  • Fatigue
  • Coughing up blood
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain
  • Hoarseness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Bone pain

At least 80% of lung cancers are believed to be caused from smoking. Second hand smoke is also considered a risk factor and increases a person’s chance of getting lung cancer by 30%. While smoking is a common cause, there are other risk factors associated with lung cancer. Having a risk factor doesn’t mean you will get lung cancer, but it may help you decide if you need to discuss your lung cancer screening eligibility, or your chances of getting lung cancer, with your healthcare provider. Risks associated with lung cancer include:

  • Smoking
  • Exposure to second hand smoke
  • Exposure to radon gas or asbestos
  • Exposure to certain chemicals in the workplace (such as asbestos, arsenic, chromium, nickel, beryllium, cadmium, tar, and soot)
  • Radiation treatment for a previous cancer
  • Family history of lung cancer

During a physical exam your healthcare provider may suspect lung cancer based on symptoms or certain risk factors that are present. There are several diagnostic tests your physician may use to determine if cancer is present. These include:

  • Chest x-ray
  • Sputum cytology
  • CT scan
  • Biopsy
  • Surgery
  • PET scan
  • Bronchoscopy
  • MRI

These tests will help determine the type of lung cancer that is present. There are two main types of lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). Non-small cell lung cancer makes up about 85% of all lung cancers. Adenocarcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, and large cell carcinomas are types of NSCLCs. Both NSCLC and SCLC can be further broken down into stages depending on the location and growth of the cancer cells.

NSCLC can be broken down into four stages

  • Stage I – cancer cells are only in the lungs and have not spread to other organs in the body. Stage I can be further broken down into IA and IB based on the size of the tumor. Tumors less than 3cm wide are IA and tumors that are from 3cm-5cm are IB
  • Stage II – cancer cells are in the lungs and nearby lymph nodes. It can also be broken down into IIA and IIB. Stage IIA are tumors that are 5cm-7cm and has not spread to the nearby lymph nodes or a small tumor less than 5 cm that has spread to the nearby lymph nodes. Stage IIB is classified as a tumor that is between 5cm-7cm that has spread to the lymph nodes or a tumor larger than 7cm that may or may not have grown into other areas of the lung, but not into the lymph nodes
  • Stage III – the cancer is found in the lungs, lymph nodes, and in the middle of the chest Stage III can be broken down into subcategories based on the location and size of the tumor in the chest
  • Stage IV – the cancer may be in both lungs, the fluid around the lungs, or to another organ such as the liver or brain

SCLC can be broken down into two stages:

  • Limited stage – cancer is found on the side of the chest and nearby lymph nodes
  • Extensive stage – cancer has spread to other regions of the chest, nearby lymph nodes, and at times other organs

Once your cancer has been diagnosed and classified into a stage, your Clearview cancer physician will discuss your available treatment options. Treatment options will vary for each patient depending on the type and stage of the lung cancer. Your physician may use one or more of the following treatment options:

Lung cancer can cause many complications depending on severity, these complications include but are not limited to:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing up blood
  • Pain
  • Fluid in the chest, also known as pleural effusion
  • Cancer that spreads to other parts of the body, also known as metastasis

There’s no sure way to prevent lung cancer, however, there are things one can do to reduce the risk:

  • Avoid smoking – If you’ve never smoked, don’t start, and if you do smoke, quit now
  • Avoid secondhand smoke – If you live or work with someone who smokes, ask them to quit or at least smoke outside so you do not inhale secondhand smoke
  • Test your home for radon – High radon levels can be remedied to make your home safer
  • Avoid toxic chemicals at work or other daily environments – Take precautions to avoid coming into contact with toxic chemicals at work or home
  • Eat a diet full of fruits and vegetables – Food sources of vitamins and nutrients are best

Exercise regularly – Try to exercise most days of the week