Even though lung cancer is the deadliest cancer of all and it is present in both men and women, this disease seems to be neglected by mainstream media and science compared to other types of cancer.
We have all seen the pink ribbons used to increase about lung cancer.
According to Quynh-Nhu Nguyen, medical doctor and assistant-professor and expert in radiation oncology working at the Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas in Houston there are 10 basic things that every man and woman should know about lung cancer.
1. It turns out that lung cancer is no.2 on the list of the most common types of cancer in the US. This is also the most common type of cancer on our planet – this information was presented by the ALA (American Lung Association). Finally, this is the deadliest cancer of all at least when it comes to American cancer patients.
Lung cancer can appear in people of all ages, but those older than 55 are more prone to it. About 65% of people suffering from lung cancer are 65 years old or older and the median age is 70. About 2% of patients are 45 years old or younger.
2. One of the main causes of lung cancer is cigarette smoking. Even though smoking cigarettes is not as popular as it was a couple of decades ago in America, about 35% of Americans are ex-smoker or current smokers. Eight out of ten lung cancer patients in the United States were smokers.
3. Lung cancer is a disease that doesn’t have any noticeable symptoms in the beginning. The American Cancer Society claims that lung cancer probably starts when the lung structures experience precancerous modifications. These structures include the alveoli, bronchioles, and bronchi.
The modifications in the genes in the lung cells can support the growth of cancer cells. Unfortunately, these cancerous cells can’t be detected with imaging tests like X-rays and they don’t produce any symptoms.
4. This vicious disease can grow and spread on other body parts before it is identified. After a while, the affected cells can turn into cancerous tumors.
On the other hand, the cancer cells can stimulate the expansion of brand new blood vessels which serve as food to tumors and aid its growth until the patient finally notices the symptoms or until the tumors are big enough to be detected with the help of X-rays and other similar imaging examinations.
In the end, cancer cells can separate from the initial tumor and metastasize to other body parts. The ability spread to other body parts before it is even detected is one of the reasons why lung cancer is so deadly.
5. There are certain lung cancers that can be treated. Generally speaking, people diagnosed with lung cancer fight against the odds. Nine out of ten patients diagnosed with lung cancer will die as a direct result of the activity of this disease. Those 10% are usually people who were able to identify this cancer in the initial stage, but only if we are talking about non-small cell type of lung cancer.
The treatment of this cancer requires stereotactic radiation therapy and surgery.
6. The truth is that regular screening can’t protect the majority of deaths caused by lung cancer. Quitting smoking is crucial for protecting our help and avoiding lung cancer. But, there are many people who have high chances of developing this disease that will find screening helpful and this information was confirmed by the USPSTF – US Preventive Services Task Force.
This organization strongly believes that regular yearly lung cancer screening with CT scans (LDCT) is able to prevent the occurrence of a large number of deaths related to lung cancer in people who belong to the risk category. The SPSTF has also highlighted the categories of people who will probably find this screening useful:
- People aged between 55 and 80 years.
- A current or ex-smoker who stopped smoking in the last 15 years.
7. Lung cancer screening can be quite beneficial, but it can also result in some risks too. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC points out that there are three major risk factors related to screening for lung cancer:
Over-diagnosis – in some cases, lung cancer screenings identify cancers that don’t have the capability to convert into a serious issue. In cases like this, individuals are involved in treatments that are not really necessary and may lead to certain side effects.
False results – there are also situations in which tests indicate the presence of suspicious matter even though you don’t have any problems. If you have experienced something like this, you will probably have to do more tests and there are cases when false positive results from these screenings resulted in unnecessary surgeries. On the other hand, these surgeries and additional tests can result in health complications.
Cancer – continuous low-dose CT scans can result in cancer in some healthy individuals.
8. Consult your physician to see whether you should use screening or not. In case you belong to a risk category of individuals, consult your doctor as soon as possible. Those who opt for screening should ask their doctor about their opinion about local treatment facilities.
It is good to point out that people over the age of 80 don’t require screening and the same goes for people who have not smoked for more than 15 years and those who have some other health issue that makes them unsuitable for lung cancer treatment.
9. The latest news suggests that we will soon have brand new therapies designed for individuals diagnosed with lung cancer in an early stage. For instance, Dr. Nguyen says that Anderson Cancer Center in Houston is using special proton therapy which is able to provide radiation to a specific area affected by tumors with such accuracy that doesn’t damage any healthy cell in the system.
Proton therapy is used in less than 20 medical centers in the United States. For instance, New York City’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is one of these centers.
Additionally, people who have tumors that are mobile while they are breathing are subjected to sophisticated four-dimensional CT scanning techniques conducted by expert radiation oncologists which helps them determine the right radiation therapy despite this continuous movement.
10. Finally, make sure that you get precise diagnosis. In case you or some of the members of your family is diagnosed with this vicious cancer, it is crucial to get a precise diagnosis ASAP. Determining the exact stage will determine the suitable treatment solution.