What is Lung Cancer? Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatments

The lungs are two spongy organs in your chest that take in oxygen when you inhale and expel carbon dioxide when you exhale. Lung cancer kills more men and women in the United States than any other cancer. In fact, lung cancer is responsible for more deaths annually than prostate, colon, ovarian, and breast cancer combined. Those who smoke have the highest risk of developing lung cancer, and the risk increases with the number of cigarettes and the length of time one smokes. A smoker can cut his risk of developing lung cancer significantly if he stops smoking, even if he has smoked for many years.

What is Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer occurs when lung cells become abnormal and start to multiply out of control. As cancer cells develop, they can form a tumor and spread to other parts of the body. There are three main types of lung cancer: non-small cell lung cancer, small cell lung cancer, and lung carcinoid tumors.

Non-small lung cell cancer is the most common type of cancer and has several subtypes, including adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, large cell carcinoma, adenosquamous carcinoma, and sarcomatoid carcinoma. Adenocarcinoma begins in the early versions of cells that would typically secrete substances like mucous. This type of cancer mostly affects current or former smokers.

However, adenocarcinoma is the most common type of lung cancer to affect non-smokers. It is more likely to occur in younger rather than older individuals and occurs more often in women than in men. Adenocarcinoma tends to grow more slowly than other forms of lung cancer and is usually discovered before it has spread to other parts of the body. Squamous cell carcinoma begins in early versions of squamous cells.

Squamous cells are flat cells that line the interior of the airways. This type of cancer is often found in the center of the lungs near the bronchus (the main airway). Squamous cell carcinoma is linked to a history of smoking. Large cell carcinoma can be found in any part of the lung. It typically grows and spreads quickly, which can make it more challenging to treat. Other subtypes of non-small cell carcinomas, including adenosquamous carcinoma and sarcomatoid carcinoma, are much less common. Small cell lung cancer typically grows and spreads more quickly than non-small cell lung cancer.

There are two types of small cell lung cancer: small cell carcinoma and combined small cell carcinoma. Small cell carcinoma is the most common type of small cell lung cancer. Nearly everyone who develops small cell lung cancer is a current or former smoker; this type of cancer is very rare in individuals who have never smoked. Small cell lung cancer usually begins in the bronchi (breathing tubes), located in the center of the chest. Small cell lung cancer is the most aggressive form of lung cancer; the cancer cells grow and multiply rapidly, forming large tumors.

The cancer cells usually spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver, bones, and brain as well. Lung carcinoid tumors are made up of neuroendocrine cells. They are uncommon, and they tend to grow more slowly than other types of lung cancer.

History

Lung cancer was rare before the invention of cigarettes. It was first recognized as a disease in 1761. Lung cancer was quite rare before the twentieth century. It’s estimated that lung cancer made up one percent of all the documented cancers before the twentieth century.

In 1929, Fritz Lickint, a German physician, published a paper indicating that lung cancer patients are likely to be smokers.

By 1940, lung cancer had become the second leading cause of cancer-related death, second only to stomach cancer. The British Doctors’ Study published in the 1950s was the first empirical evidence linking smoking and lung cancer.

In 1964, the Surgeon General of the United States suggested smokers stop smoking. The connection between radon gas and lung cancer was first noted in miners in the Ore Mountains, located near Schneeberg, Saxony. Silver has been mined in this location since 1470. These mines are rich in uranium, radium, and radon gas.

It was noted that miners disproportionately developed lung disease, which was eventually recognized as lung cancer in the 1870s. In the 1960s, radon was confirmed as a cause of lung cancer. The first successful pneumonectomy (the surgical removal of a lung) was performed in 1933.

In 1958, fluorouracil was created as a chemotherapy drug to fight many different types of cancer, including lung cancer. From 1959 to 1972, a study that recruited one million men and women showed that a sharp increase in lung cancer death rates was related to cigarette smoking.

Between 1960 and 1969, radon was confirmed as a cause of lung cancer.

In 1965, the International Agency for Research on Cancer was founded. The International Agency for Research on Cancer is part of the World Health Organization of the United Nations, and its purpose is to conduct research into the causes of cancer.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer declared passive smoking, the inhalation of second-hand smoke, a carcinogen in 1986.

Numerous cities around the world began to ban smoking indoors in the years that followed. Between 1990 and 1992, two studies indicate that combining radiation therapy and chemotherapy prolongs survival rates for non-small cell lung cancer patients. This treatment protocol soon became the standard for lung cancer treatment.

In 1995, an analysis of the data from more than 50 clinical trials confirmed the benefits of chemotherapy for advanced non-small-cell lung carcinoma.

The analysis concluded that cisplatin chemotherapy in combination with radiation therapy, surgery, or supportive care substantially extends survival rates. In 1996, topotecan (a chemotherapy drug) was approved as the second round of treatment for small cell lung carcinoma.

In 1999, a study found that radiation therapy to the chest twice a day combined with chemotherapy prolongs survival rates for small cell lung carcinoma patients compared to radiation therapy once a day combined with chemotherapy. The United States Food and Drug Administration approved gefitinib as a first-line treatment for patients with metastatic non-small cell lung carcinoma.

Bhutan became the first country to ban the sale of tobacco products in 2005. In 2008, the Indian government banned smoking in public. Rates of death due to lung cancer continued to rise.

In 2012, the United States Lung Association indicated that lung cancer death rates had risen by 3.5% between 1999 and 2012.

In 2015, lung cancer became the leading cause of cancer-related death among women in rich countries, surpassing the death rates due to breast cancer.

Risk Factors

A risk factor is anything that puts you at an increased risk for developing a disease. There are several risk factors that may increase your likelihood of developing lung cancer. However, it is important to note that having one or more risk factors doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop cancer.

Some people who have no or few risk factors develop lung cancer.

  • Tobacco Smoke

Smoking is the greatest risk factor for developing lung cancer. The risk of developing lung cancer for smokers is many times higher than it is for non-smokers.

The more packs per day and the longer you smoke, the higher your risk of developing lung cancer.

Cigar and pipe smoking are nearly as likely to cause lung cancer as is cigarette smoking.

Smoking, “light,” or low-tar cigarettes increases your chance of developing lung cancer as much as smoking regular cigarettes do.

Smoking menthol cigarettes may actually increase your likelihood of developing lung cancer even more because the menthol allows you to inhale more deeply.

  • Secondhand Smoke

Breathing in others’ smoke (secondhand smoke) also increases your risk of developing lung cancer.

  • Exposure to Asbestos

Individuals who work with asbestos are much more likely to die of lung cancer than those who don’t.

Workers may come in contact with asbestos in mines, mills, shipyards, places where insulation is used, and textile plants.

It isn’t clear how much short-term or low-level exposure to asbestos affects one’s lung cancer risk.

Individuals who are exposed to high amounts of asbestos are also more likely to develop mesothelioma, which is a kind of cancer that begins in the lining surrounding the lungs (pleura).

Government regulations have greatly reduced the use of asbestos in industrial and commercial products over the past several years.

Asbestos is still present in many homes as well as other older buildings.

However, asbestos is typically not considered dangerous unless it is released into the air by renovation, deterioration, or demolition.

  • Exposure to Radon

Radon is a radioactive gas that naturally results from the breakdown of uranium in rocks and soil.

You cannot smell, see, or taste radon.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, and it is the leading cause of lung cancer among individuals who do not smoke.

There is so little radon outdoors that it is unlikely to be harmful.

However, radon can become concentrated indoors.

Breathing in radon exposes your lungs to small amounts of radiation.

This exposure can increase your likelihood of developing lung cancer.

Houses as well as other buildings can have high indoor levels of radon.

This may be especially true of basements.

  • Other Carcinogens in the Workplace

Other carcinogens in the workplace can increase your risk of lung cancer.

These carcinogens include diesel exhaust, radioactive ores, such as uranium, and inhaled chemicals, such as nickel compounds, arsenic, mustard gas, silica, beryllium, coal products, cadmium, chloromethyl ethers, and vinyl chloride.

The government and industry have taken steps to help protect workers from many of these dangers in recent years.

However, the dangers are still present.

If you work around these hazards, take precautions to limit your exposure to them.

  • Arsenic in Drinking Water

Studies of individuals in areas where arsenic levels in the drinking water are high have found that this puts individuals at risk for developing lung cancer.

In most of these studies, the arsenic in the drinking water was many times greater than it is in the United States.

Most individuals in the United States who use the public water system do not have to worry about dangerous levels of arsenic in their drinking water.

  • Dietary Supplements

Two large studies have found that smokers who took beta carotene had an increased risk of lung cancer.

For this reason, smokers are encouraged not to take beta carotene as a dietary supplement.

  • Radiation to the Chest

Individuals who have received radiation therapy to the chest for other cancers have a higher risk of developing lung cancer, especially if they smoke.

Women who receive radiation after a lumpectomy do not appear to have a higher risk of developing lung cancer.

  • Air Pollution

In cities, air pollution seems to slightly raise an individual’s risk of developing lung cancer.

  • Personal or Family History

If you have had lung cancer in the past, you have a higher chance of developing another lung cancer.

Siblings and children of those who have had lung cancer may also have a slightly increased risk of developing the disease themselves, especially if the relative was diagnosed at a younger age.

However, it is not clear whether this increase in risk is due to shared genes or environment, such as being exposed to radon or tobacco smoke in the same house.

 

Screening

Screening tests are done when no signs or symptoms of a disease are present.

Screening tests may help diagnose conditions in their earliest stages, making them easier to treat.

Yearly lung cancer screening tests are recommended for individuals who have a heavy history of smoking, are current smokers or who have quit smoking within the past 15 years, and are between 55 and 80 years of age.

Heavy smoking is defined as having a history of 30 pack years.

A pack-year is defined by smoking an average of one pack of cigarettes each day for the duration of one year.

Thus, an individual could have 30 pack years by smoking a pack of cigarettes each day for 30 years or two packs of cigarettes a day for 15 years.

There is currently only one test recommended for screening for lung cancer: the low-dose computed tomography (LDCT).

The type of low-dose CT scan that is recommended for screening for lung cancer is a newer kind of CT scan called a low-dose spiral or helical CT scan.

The low-dose spiral CT scan continuously moves in a spiral motion, taking many 3-D x-ray pictures of the lungs.

The images are very detailed, and low-dose CT scans can detect lung cancers that traditional x-rays cannot.

More specifically, a low-dose CT scan can identify lung cancers the size of a grain of rice while traditional x-rays can detect lung cancers the size of a dime.

Identifying a cancerous tumor as early as possible means that there is less likely that cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Oftentimes, more treatment options are available when cancerous tumors are identified in their earliest stages.

The LDCT does come with risks.

These risks should be considered and discussed with your doctor when deciding whether an LDCT is an appropriate test for you.

False-Positive Result

A false-positive result occurs when a screening test suggests cancer is present in an individual where cancer isn’t there.

False-positive results can lead to more tests and surgeries that are unnecessary.

These tests and surgeries may have risks of their own. false-positive results can also lead to a great deal of anxiety and distress for people who receive them.

Overdiagnosis

An LDCT can find cases of lung cancer that may have never caused any issues for the patient.

When this occurs, a patient can receive unnecessary treatment.

Radiation

Radiation exposure from repeated LDCT scans may lead to cancer in an individual who was otherwise healthy.

If you are interested in being screened for lung cancer, talk it over with your doctor.

Your doctor will be able to help you weigh the benefits and risks of testing and determine if the test is appropriate for you.

 

Symptoms

There are typically no signs or symptoms of lung cancer in its earliest stages.

That’s why screening tests are important for individuals at high risk for the disease.

There are several signs and symptoms of lung cancer that may present themselves as the disease advances.

A persistent cough that gets worse with time, changes in a chronic cough or, “smoker’s cough,” shortness of breath, coughing up blood (even small amounts), wheezing, and chest pain may all indicate the presence of lung cancer.

Additionally, headaches, hoarseness, bone pain, and losing weight without trying to may indicate a problem.

Some individuals with lung cancer may experience repeated problems with bronchitis or pneumonia, swelling of the face and neck, and fatigue

Symptoms of pneumonia include chest pain when you cough or breath, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, sweating, chills, shortness of breath, and cough that may produce phlegm.

If you have pneumonia and are 65 years of age or older, you may also experience confusion or other changes in mental awareness and a lower than normal body temperature.

Symptoms of bronchitis include cough, fatigue, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, slight fever and chills, and the production of sputum, which can be clear, white, green, or yellowish-gray in color and may contain blood.

Bronchitis can be acute or chronic in nature.

If you have acute bronchitis, you may cough for several weeks after the inflammation has subsided.

Chronic bronchitis is characterized by a chronic cough that lasts for at least three months, with reoccurring bouts that occur for at least two consecutive years.

Cancer in the top part of the lungs can cause a group of symptoms called Horner Syndrome.

Symptoms of Horner Syndrome include weakness or drooping in one eyelid, a smaller pupil (the dark part in the center of the eye) in the same eye, and reduced or absent sweating on the same side of the face.

Severe shoulder pain can also occur as part of Horner Syndrome.

People who have cancer in the top part of the right lung may also have problems involving the superior vena cava.

The superior vena cava is a large vein that carries blood from the arms and head to the heart.

The vein runs through the top part of the right lung and lymph nodes.

Cancerous tumors in this part of the lung can press against the superior vena cava, resulting in blood backing up in the vein.

This can result in swelling in the neck, face, upper chest, and arms.

The skin in these areas may also take on a blush-red color.

If it affects the brain, it can also lead to headaches, dizziness, and changes in consciousness.

These symptoms constitute a condition called superior vena cava syndrome.

Superior vena cava syndrome may develop gradually over time, but it can become life-threatening, requiring immediate treatment.

Sometimes lung cancer can create hormone-like substances that enter the bloodstream and cause problems with other organs and tissues, even if cancer has not spread to other areas of the body.

These problems are called paraneoplastic syndromes.

Sometimes paraneoplastic syndromes are the first sign of lung cancer.

Some of the most common forms of paraneoplastic syndromes that occur with non-small cell lung cancer include hypercalcemia, gynecomastia (excess breast growth in males), blood clots, and excess growth or thickening of the bones, especially those in the fingertips, which is often painful.

Hypercalcemia is high blood calcium levels, which may cause constipation, nausea, thirst, frequent urination, vomiting, stomach pain, confusion, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and other nervous system problems.

Some of the most common paraneoplastic syndromes seen with small cell lung cancer include Cushing syndrome, syndrome of inappropriate anti-diuretic hormone, and nervous system problems.

Cushing syndrome results when the cancer cells create ACTH, a hormone that causes the adrenal glands to make cortisol.

Cushing syndrome symptoms include easy bruising, high blood pressure, weakness, weight gain, drowsiness, fluid retention, high blood sugar levels, and diabetes.

Syndrome of inappropriate anti-diuretic hormone (SIADH) results when the cancer cells create a hormone called ADH, which causes the kidneys to retain water.

Salt levels in the blood drop as a result.

Symptoms of SIADH include muscle weakness, fatigue, muscle cramps, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, confusion, and restlessness.

Severe cases of SIADH can lead to seizures or coma.

Small cell lung cancer may also cause the body’s immune system to attack parts of the nervous system.

This can lead to problems as well.

For instance, Lambert-Eaton syndrome may occur.

In Lambert-Eaton syndrome, muscles around the hips become weak.

The first sign of Lambert-Eaton syndrome may be having difficulty getting up from a sitting position.

Later on, the syndrome may lead to weak shoulder muscles as well.

When lung cancer spreads to other areas of the body, you may experience additional symptoms.

If cancer spreads to the liver, your skin and eyes may yellow (jaundice).

If lung cancer spreads to the spinal cord or brain, you may experience dizziness, weakness, or numbness in an arm or leg, seizures, balance problems, and headaches.

You may also get lumps near the surface of your skin if cancer spreads to your skin or lymph nodes.

If you experience any of the signs of lung cancer, it is important to discuss them with your doctor.

The symptoms may be attributed to a number of conditions, and your doctor will be able to help diagnose and treat your condition.

 

Diagnosis and Stages

If you have any signs or symptoms of lung cancer, discuss them with your doctor.

Your physician will begin by performing a physical examination and taking your medical history.

If your doctor feels the results of your physical exam and medical history could indicate possible lung cancer, your physician may order one or more tests to help diagnose you.

  • Chest X-ray

A chest x-ray is often the first test a doctor will order.

If there are any suspicious spots on your lungs, your doctor will likely order more tests.

  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan

A CT scan uses specialized x-ray equipment to create detailed images of the inside of the body.

A CT scan is more likely to reveal lung cancer than a traditional chest x-ray.

A CT scan is also able to show the size, shape, and position of tumors as well as enlarged lymph nodes that may contain cancer.

  • CT Guided Needle Biopsy

A CT scan can be utilized to guide a biopsy needle precisely to a suspicious area deep within your lung.

In a biopsy, a small piece of your lung tissue is extracted and sent to the laboratory for testing.

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans utilize radio waves and a strong magnetic field to create detailed pictures of structures inside the body.

MRI scans are sometimes used to look for the spread of cancer to the spinal cord and brain.

  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan

In a PET scan, a slightly radioactive form of sugar is injected into your body.

The radioactive sugar mainly collects in cancerous cells.

A specialized camera is utilized to form a picture of areas of radioactivity in your body.

A PET scan can be especially useful if you have early-stage lung cancer.

The test can reveal if cancer has spread to your lymph nodes or to other organs.

A PET scan may also be useful if your physician believes your lung cancer has spread to other areas of the body, but he isn’t sure where.

  • PET/CT

Some machines allow a doctor to perform a PET scan and a CT scan at the same time.

This allows the physician to compare areas of higher radioactivity within the body to the detailed images a CT scan produces.

  • Bone Scan

A bone scan can determine if lung cancer has spread to your bones.

For the test, a slightly radioactive chemical is injected into your body.

The chemical gathers in abnormal areas of the bone, and a specialized camera is utilized to create pictures of areas of radioactivity in your body.

  • Thoracentesis

If the fluid has built up around your lungs, thoracentesis can be used to relieve your symptoms and to determine if cancer has spread to the lining of your lungs.

In this procedure, your skin is numbed, and a hollow needle is inserted between your ribs to drain the fluid.

A doctor uses a microscope to determine if cancer cells are present in the fluid that is extracted.

  • Needle Biopsy

In a needle biopsy, a hollow needle is used to obtain a small sample of tissue from a suspicious area in the lung, and this tissue is examined for the presence of cancer cells.

In a fine needle aspiration biopsy, a doctor uses a very thin hollow needle to extract cells from the lung.

In a core biopsy, a doctor uses a larger needle to extract one or more small cores of tissue from the lung.

  • Transthoracic Needle Biopsy

If a suspected tumor is in the outer part of the lung, a biopsy needle can be inserted through your skin on the chest wall.

The physician guides the needle while looking at your lung with fluoroscopy or CT scans.

A potential complication of this procedure is that air may leak out of your lung at the biopsy site into space between your lung and chest wall.

This may cause part of your lung to collapse and cause breathing difficulties.

Small air leaks usually get better on their own without treatment while larger leaks are usually treated by placing a small tube into the chest space.

The air is sucked out over a day or two through the tube, after which the lung typically heals on its own.

  • Bronchoscopy

A bronchoscopy can be used to find tumors or blockages in the larger airways of the lungs.

It can also be used to take a sample of lung tissue to see if it contains cancer.

For this procedure, your throat is numbed, and a lighted, flexible fiber-optic tube (bronchoscope) is inserted through your nose or mouth down into your bronchi.

Small instruments can be passed down through the bronchoscope in order to take samples of lung tissue.

A physician can also get samples of cells that line your airways by using a small brush or by rinsing your airways with sterile salt water.

The stage of cancer identifies how far it has spread.

Cancer’s stage is one of the most important factors in deciding what treatment options are available to you as well as how likely these treatment options are to be successful.

Most physicians use the TNM scale to stage non-small cell lung cancer.

In this system, cancer’s stage is based on how large the primary tumor is and whether it has grown into nearby areas, whether cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, and whether cancer has spread to other areas of the body.

Once the T, N, and M categories have been determined, the information is put together to assign an overall cancer stage.

Cancer stages for non-small cell lung cancer range from 0 to IV.

Doctors typically use a two-stage system when staging small cell lung cancer.

In limited-stage small cell lung cancer, the cancer is present on one side of the chest and can be treated with one radiation field.

In extensive-stage small cell lung cancer, cancer has spread widely throughout the lung, to lymph nodes on the other side of the chest, to the other lung, or to other areas of the body.

Additionally, many physicians also consider small*cell lung cancer that has spread to the fluid around the lungs as an extensive-stage.

 

Treatment and Drugs

Treatment options for lung cancer depend on cancer’s stage as well as other factors.

It’s important to discuss all available treatment options with your doctor to determine which ones are best for you.

  • Chemotherapy

In chemotherapy, anti-cancer drugs are taken by mouth or injected into your body.

The drugs enter your bloodstream and kill cancer cells throughout your body.

Chemotherapy can be used before surgery to try to shrink non-small cell lung cancer tumors, after surgery to kill any cancer cells that were left behind, to kill cancer cells that cannot be removed by surgery, or as the main treatment for advanced cancer.

Chemotherapy is often utilized in the treatment of small-cell lung cancer because cancer has often spread to other areas of the body by the time it is diagnosed.

  • Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy utilizes high-energy rays or particles to destroy cancer cells.

Radiation therapy may be given to individuals with non-small cell lung cancer as a main course of treatment when a lung tumor cannot be removed with surgery or if someone isn’t healthy enough to undergo surgery.

It can also be given before surgery to try to shrink the lung tumor, given after surgery to destroy any cancer cells left behind, or to relieve symptoms of advanced cancer.

Small cell lung cancer often spreads to the brain, and radiation therapy can be given to help lower the chance a patient will have issues from cancer spread to the brain.

  • Radiofrequency Ablation

Radiofrequency ablation is an option for some individuals with small non-small cell lung tumors near the outer edge of the lung.

For this procedure, a thin, needle-like probe is inserted into your skin and placed so that the tip of the probe is in the tumor.

Once the tip of the probe is in the tumor, an electric current is applied to the tumor, heating the tumor and destroying the cancer cells.

  • Targeted Drugs

Targeted drugs target the changes seen in certain types of non-small cell lung cancer tumors.

These drugs typically have less severe side effects than chemotherapy.

  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors

Tumors need to form new blood vessels to keep them nourished and to grow.

Angiogenesis inhibitors block the formation of new blood vessels.

Examples of angiogenesis inhibitors include bevacizumab and ramucirumab.

Common side effects of these medications include high blood pressure, headaches, low white blood cell count, bleeding, mouth sores, fatigue, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.

  • EGFR Inhibitors

Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a protein on the surface of cells that normally helps them grow and divide.

Some non-small cell lung cancer cells have too much EGFR, helping them grow faster.

EGFR inhibitors can inhibit the signal that tells these cells to grow.

Examples of EGFR medications include afatinib, erlotinib, and gefitinib. Common side effects of EGFR inhibitors include mouth sores, skin problems, loss of appetite, and diarrhea.

  • Drugs that Target Cells with ALK Gene Changes

A small number of non-small cell lung cancer tumors have a rearrangement in the ALK gene.

The ALK gene rearrangement makes an abnormal ALK protein, which causes the cells to grow and spread.

Medications that target the ALK protein are ceritinib, crizotinib, and alectinib.

Common side effects of these drugs include fatigue, diarrhea, changes in vision, constipation, and nausea and vomiting.

  • Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy uses medications to stimulate an individual’s immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells, and it can be used to treat some forms of non-small cell lung cancer.

Some immunotherapy drugs used to treat non-small cell lung cancer include nivolumab, pembrolizumab, and atezolizumab.

Side effects of these medications include skin rash, cough, itchiness, nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, constipation, loss of appetite, and joint pain.

  • Surgery

Surgery can be used to remove an early-stage non-small cell lung cancer tumor, and if it can be done, it provides the best chance for a cure from non-small cell lung cancer.

Surgery is not typically used in the treatment of small-cell lung cancer because cancer has typically spread by the time a diagnosis is made.

Pneumonectomy. In a pneumonectomy, an entire lung is removed.

Lobectomy. In a lobectomy, the entire lobe containing lung cancer is removed.

Segmentectomy or Wedge Resection. In these surgeries, part of the lobe containing the lung cancer is removed.

Sleeve Resection. In a sleeve resection, a part of a large airway is removed, and the lung is reattached.

  • Palliative Care

Palliative care is aimed at relieving cancer symptoms and improving one’s quality of life.

Palliative care for individuals with lung cancer is often focused on helping patients breathe more easily.

This can be done with procedures to drain fluid around the lungs, drain fluid around the heart, and open airways blocked by tumors.

 

Coping and Support

Coping with a diagnosis of lung cancer is incredibly challenging.

You’re likely to feel afraid, upset, and like things are out of control, especially in the beginning.

There are several things you can do to help yourself cope with a diagnosis of lung cancer.

  • Educate Yourself

You may find it helpful to educate yourself about the type of cancer you have as well as the treatment options available to you.

When you are informed, you’ll be able to make informed decisions about your treatment.

Ask your doctor for good sources of information about your specific type of cancer and treatment options available to you.

  • Counseling

Seeing a therapist can help with many of the issues you might face when you have cancer.

A therapist can help you work through reactions to your cancer diagnosis and the emotions you experience as you go through treatment.

A therapist can also help you with relationship issues and practical matters.

  • Ask for Help

Many cancer treatments cause fatigue, and you may find that you need help with daily activities, like grocery shopping, household chores, and getting to doctor’s appointments.

Don’t be afraid to ask family and friends to help you with these things.

Many people want to help but don’t know what you need.

Be specific when you ask for help.

For instance, ask a friend if she can get you some milk from the grocery store, or ask your mom if she can drive you to your chemotherapy appointment.

  • Support Groups

Talking with others who have been or are going through something similar may help you.

Ask your doctor if she knows of any local cancer support groups you can attend.

You could also check out cancer support forums online to find people who are going through similar experiences.

  • Express Yourself

Express your emotions in a healthy way.

Talk to your family and friends about how you’re feeling.

You can also use creativity to express your feelings.

Painting, drawing, singing, songwriting, and writing are all great ways to express your emotions.

  • Manage Stress

Going through treatment for lung cancer is stressful.

You can manage stress in many ways.

Relaxation techniques and breathing exercises may help you feel less stressed.

Set aside time each day to do something you find relaxing, such as reading a good book, watching a funny television show or movie, taking a bubble bath, going for a walk, spending time with family and friends, spending time with a beloved pet, or enjoying the outdoors.

Lung cancer can be a challenging disease to treat because it often does not present any symptoms until it is advanced.

Screening tests are recommended for those who are at high risk of developing lung cancer to catch the disease at its earliest stage.

If you have any of the symptoms of lung cancer, talk with your physician about them so that he can help you determine the cause and help you decide on the best course of treatment for your situation.

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The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.

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