Cancer is a term used to describe a group of diseases characterized by the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. When cancer starts in the lungs, it is called Lung cancer. Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer that originates in the cells of the lungs. It typically begins in the lining of the bronchi, but can also start in other areas such as the bronchioles or alveoli.
There are two main types of lung cancer
Non-small cell lung cancer (about 85% of all lung cancers)- It is the most prevalent kind of lung cancer. It grows and spreads more slowly than small cell lung cancer. It includes several subtypes such as adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.
- Adenocarcinoma: It is the most common subtype and tends to occur in the outer regions of the lungs.
- Squamous cell carcinoma: It begins in the bronchi near the middle of the lungs.
- Large cell carcinoma: It can develop in any part of the lung and tends to grow quickly.
Small cell lung cancer (about 15%)- It is a fast-growing cancer that spreads more quickly than other types of lung cancer. It is strongly associated with smoking and is often diagnosed at an advanced stage. There are two subtypes of small cell lung cancer:
- Small cell carcinoma: It is also known as oat cell carcinoma. It is characterized by small, round cells that grow quickly and tend to spread rapidly to other parts of the body.
- Combined small cell carcinoma: It refers to a rare subtype of small cell lung cancer where both small cell and non-small cell components are present within the same tumour.
Causes of lung cancer:
Lung cancer can affect anyone but there are several factors that can contribute to the development of lung cancer.
- Smoking: Tobacco smoke is the leading cause of lung cancer. Cigarettes, cigars, and pipe smoking all increase the risk of lung cancer. The longer and heavier the smoking habit, the higher the risk.
- Secondhand smoke: Being exposed to secondhand smoke from smokers can also increase the risk of developing lung cancer.
- Occupational exposure: Exposure to carcinogens such as asbestos, arsenic, chromium, nickel, and diesel exhaust in certain workplaces such as construction sites, mines can increase the risk of lung cancer.
- Genetics: Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to developing lung cancer, although genetic factors are thought to play a smaller role compared to environmental factors like smoking.
- Air pollution: Long term exposure to air pollutants , such as those from vehicle exhaust, industrial emissions, may increase the risk of lung cancer.
- History of lung disease: Chronic lung disease such as Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)and pulmonary fibrosis can increase the risk of lung cancer.
Prevention of lung cancer:
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid secondhand smoke
- Avoid carcinogens
- Healthy lifestyle
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Awareness and education
Treatment of lung cancer:
Treatment of lung cancer depends on several factors including the type, stage of lung cancer and also depends on the individual’s overall health.
- Surgery: Surgery may be performed to remove the tumour and surrounding tissue. It is most effective for early stage lung cancer.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells or slow their growth. It can be used before surgery to shrink tumors and after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. It can be used alone or in combination with surgery and/or chemotherapy to treat lung cancer.
- Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy drugs help the immune system recognize and attack cancer cells. They can be used to treat non-small cell lung cancer that has spread or recurred after other treatments.
Lung cancer remains a significant health challenge worldwide, but still there is a hope. Through increased awareness, early detection, and advancement in treatments, we can make progress in the fight against lung cancer.
Anyone who has concerns about the risk of lung cancer should seek guidance from a healthcare professional.