The air we breathe nowadays is highly polluted and consists of dangerous chemicals. Exposure to such toxic substances on a daily basis is the major reason behind a high prevalence of lung cancer at present. However, lung cancer can also occur due to various other factors such as excessive smoking.
In simple terms, lung cancer happens when there is mutation in the lung cells. The healthy lung tissue is destroyed by cancer cells that grow rapidly and join together to form a tumor. Early diagnosis is important to treat the condition effectively.
Risk factors for lung cancer:
- Smoking tobacco: By far, smoking is the leading risk factor for lung cancer. Cigar smoking and pipe smoking are equally hazardous when it comes to getting affected by lung cancer.
- Passive smoke: You are at a high risk of developing lung cancer even if you don’t smoke but live around someone who smokes regularly. Inhaling passive smoke or environmental tobacco smoke is dangerous for the lungs.
- Exposure to asbestos: Workers who are exposed to asbestos in textile plants, mills and mines have a higher likelihood of developing lung cancer.
- History of lung cancer: If you have been previously affected by lung cancer, there are high chances of getting the condition again. Additionally, if anyone in the family has been a lung cancer patient, you are at a higher risk of developing the same.
Look out for the following signs and symptoms:
- Persistent cough that gets worse over a period of time.
- Blood in phlegm while coughing.
- Difficulty in breathing.
- Fatigue and loss of appetite.
- Pain in the chest that worsens while deep breathing or coughing.
- Recurring bronchitis and pneumonia.
- Unexplained weight loss.
Types and Treatment:
- NSCLC (Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer): This type of lung cancer shows symptoms only in the advanced stages. NSCLC is further divided into 3 main types: adenocarcinoma of the lung, squamous cell and large-cell undifferentiated carcinoma. The treatment for NSCLC patients during the early stages includes surgery to remove the tumor. However, patients in the advanced stages require radiation and chemotherapy.
- SCLC (Small Cell Lung Cancer): Mostly caused by tobacco smoking, SCLC originates in the airways that go from trachea to the lungs. It rapidly spreads to other parts of the body, including the lymph nodes. Since SCLC is aggressive, the course of treatment is fast. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are used depending on the stage of lung cancer.
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