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Lung Cancer: An overview of symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

  • Posted on- Oct 15, 2015
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Lung cancer is a form of cancer that starts in the lungs. Your lungs are two spongy organs in your chest that take in oxygen when you inhale and release carbon dioxide when you exhale. People who smoke have the greatest risk of lung cancer. The risk of lung cancer increases with the length of time and number of cigarettes you've smoked. If you quit smoking, even after smoking for many years, you can significantly reduce your chances of developing lung cancer.

Signs and symptoms associated with lung cancer
 

Lung cancer normally doesn't cause signs and symptoms initially. When the cancer advances, signs and symptoms may include:


Tests and diagnosis for lung cancer

If you show signs and symptoms of lung cancer, your doctor can order a number of tests to look for cancerous cells and to rule out other conditions. He/She may suggest:
  • An X-ray image of your lungs may reveal an abnormal mass or nodule. A CT scan can reveal small lesions in your lungs that might not be detected on an X-ray.
  • If you have a cough and are producing sputum, looking at the sputum under the microscope can sometimes reveal the presence of lung cancer cells.
  • A sample of abnormal cells may be removed in a procedure called a biopsy. The sample is then sent to lab for testing.

Your doctor can perform a biopsy in different ways, including bronchoscopy, in which he examines abnormal areas of your lungs using a lighted tube that's passed down your throat and into your lungs.

Treatment options for lung cancer

Treatment options for lung cancer are based on your overall health, the type of your cancer, and your preferences. In some cases you may choose not to undergo treatment. Following are some of the common treatments:
  • Surgery to remove a small section of lung that contains the tumour along with a margin of healthy tissue.
  • Surgery to remove a larger portion of lung, but not an entire lobe.
  • Surgery to remove the entire lobe of one lung.
  • Surgery to remove an entire lung.
  • Chemotherapy which uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It may be given through a vein in your arm or orally. Chemotherapy is often used after surgery to kill any cancer cells that may remain.
  • Radiation therapy uses high-powered energy beams, such as X-rays, to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy can be directed at your lung cancer from outside your body. The therapy can also be used after surgery to kill any cancer cells that may remain.
  • Targeted therapies are newer cancer treatments that work by targeting specific abnormalities in cancer cells.

People with lung cancer often experience side effects of treatment. They require proper consultation with a doctor to minimize the signs and symptoms.