Lung Cancer

  • Abnormal growth of cells in one or both the lungs causes lung cancer. These cells grow speedily and form tumors. The development of tumors weakens the lung’s capability to provide the bloodstream with oxygen. Initial symptoms of lung cancer are cough, coughing up blood, weakness, weight loss, frequent respiratory infections and shortness of breath. Cigarette smoking, inhaling Radon gas, asbestos, outdoor air pollution are some of the main causes of cancer and 8 to 14% of lung cancer is caused by inherited reasons.
  • Lung cancer is an unusual, injurious growth of cells of one’s lungs. There are different reasons of lung cancer being one of the most threatening types of cancer. A key reason is that lung cancer has a tendency of spreading to other parts of the body fast. Given this reason lung cancer is usually not detected until it has developed substantially.

Lung Cancer Signs and Symptoms

  • Swelling in face and neckarea
  • A persistent cough that is beyond treatment
  • Blood in spit with a brownish tincture
  • Chest pain
  • Sudden, major weight loss without any visible reason
  • Breath shortness
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Prolonged pneumonia,bronchitis and other such infections
  • Change in voice quality and persistent hoarseness
  • Unexplained fever
  • Loss of appetite

There symptoms may be caused due to other health conditions. However, if some of these signs are visible you must consult a doctor to clarify its cause.

Treatment of Lung Cancer

Basically, lung cancers treatment options consists of radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy, or a combination of these therapies.


  • In Chemotherapy drugs are used to combat the lung cancer. The purpose of these drugs is to disrupt the development of the cancerous cells.
  • Traditionally, these drugs are injected into the bloodstream to travel throughout the body to encounter the cancerous cells and kill them off.

Radiation Therapy

Most of the time radiation therapy is used in combination with surgery and/or chemotherapy. External beam radiation and Brachy therapy are the two major therapies used for treating the lung cancer.


If lung cancer is detected in the early stages surgery is conducted to remove the tumor. At this stage, the cancer is limited to the lungs. Once it travels beyond the chest to other organs, surgery is not considered as a right treatment.

Causes of Lung Cancer

Let's have a look on some of the key lung cancer risk factors in more detail.

Cigarette Smoking

It is believed that nine out of ten cases of lung cancer develop as a result of the patient being a smoker or has been a smoker. Smoking has a very strong connection with this dreaded disease.

Second Hand Smoke

Second hand smoke is also linked with smoking. Second hand smoke carries a high degree of carcinogens and other dangerous components. If you regularly inhale second hand smoke, you become a partner in many of the risks that accrue to smokers.

Exposure to Asbestos

Asbestos exposure is one of the common factors for mesothelioma. Asbestos releases fine silica fibers into the air and when these fibers are inhaled they get stuck up within the lung tissues and cause mesothelioma.

Exposure to Radon

Radon is a gas generated by the radioactive decay of uranium. According to an estimation of the US Environmental Protection Agency, almost one in seven homes in US has dangerous levels of radon.

These are the important risk factors in developing lung cancer.

Stages of Lung Cancer

The patient's chance of survival increases if the cancer is detected at an earlier stage. This is true of all cancer, but is specifically true of lung cancer because of its tendency to spread fast to other body organs.

There are fourlung cancer stages

Stage 1

This is the first and least life threatening stage, whereas Stage 4 is the most advanced stage of the disease showing a very poor prognosis.
Albeit Stage 1 is the treatable among the stages of lung cancer, it is yet a very serious disease even at this first stage.

Lung cancers are often triggered by affecting the lining of the bronchi. Some cancers also develop in the glands that are found underneath the bronchi lining.

Stage 2

Stage 2 lung cancer manifests a phase where the ailment has been limited to lung tissue and the lymph nodes inside the lung.

Stage 3

When the disease proliferates further, it spreads to lymph nodes outside the lung also. So stage 3 lung cancer cover three areas -- lung tissue, lymph nodes inside the lung and lymph nodes outside the lung.

Stage 4

The disease is said to have advanced to stage 4 lung cancer when it has spread well beyond the lungs and has affected other organs like the liver, bones, brain and other parts of the body.

It is best to detect the cancer well before it proliferates to stage 4 lung cancer. Early detection is the major factor to successful treatment.

Lung Cancer Survival Rate

The lung cancer survival rate is the lowest of all types of cancers. It is certainly a fatal disease. Approximately one third of all deaths are caused by lung cancer in terms of all cancers.

As far as lung cancer survival rate is concerned, the aggregate survival rate at the end of five years is merely 15%. Unlike, the five year survival rate for prostate cancer is 98%, for breast cancer is 87% and colon cancer is 62%. This is a clear signal of the devastating nature of lung cancer.

The vital truth is that an approximately 87% of all cases of lung cancer are occurred by smoking.

Next to smoking, radon gas exposure is the biggest factor resulting to lung cancer, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. Over 20,000 deaths are caused due to radon every year.

One of the reasons for the low lung cancer survival rate is the truth that the disease is usually detected at an advanced stage, when treatment is difficult to yield any results. Over 50% of all cases are detected at stages 3B or 4 - and such cases have a five year survival rate of merely 5%.

Throughout the planet, the lowest incidence of lung cancer is Nigeria country. And Great Britain is counted as the country with highest lung cancer cases.

Given the very low lung cancer survival chance, the most plausible action one can take is to never start smoking. Or if you are already a smoker, give up smoking as soon as possible.

Lung Cancer Awareness Month & Ribbon
Month November
Ribbon Pearl Color

Prognosis of Lung Cancer

Prognosis of Lung cancer

It hugely depends upon the histological type of cancer, the stage, and the patient's performance scenario. Only about 2% of those detected with lung cancer that has proliferated to other parts of the body are alive for five years after the diagnosis.

Survival rates have enhanced for non small-cell lung cancer because of advancements in combine radiation/chemotherapy treatment. Small cell lung cancer is very difficult to treat, nevertheless. Small cell is the most aggressive lung cancers, and many patients have been detected at a very advanced stage. Small cell lung cancer can be treated by both chemotherapy and radiation.

Small Cell Lung Cancer

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is a fast-developing lung cancer that proliferates more rapidly than non-small cell lung cancer.

Different types of small cell lung cancer are:

  1. Small cell carcinoma
  2. Combined small cell carcinoma
  3. Mixed small cell/large cell carcinoma

Most of small cell lung cancers are the oat cell type.


  • Small cell lung cancer comprises of 15% of all the lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer is mostly more common in male than female.
  • Most of the cases of SCLC are the results of cigarette smoking. SCLC is rare in those who are non smoker.
  • SCLC is the most lethal form of lung cancer. It generally originates in the breathing tubes (bronchi) in the chest center. Although being small, they proliferate very rapidly and develop large tumors. These tumors often spread fast to other parts of the body, e.g. brain, liver, and bone.


  • Chest pain
  • Bloody sputum (phlegm)
  • Cough
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Wheezing


Because SCLC spreads fast all over the body, treatment must comprise cancer-killing drugs (chemotherapy) administered orally or injected into the body.

  • Chemotherapy may be given with radiation therapy to the people with disease limited to lungs.
  • Etoposide with either cisplatin orcarboplatin are the common drugs that are used in US for treating the lung caner.

Because the disease has generally proliferated by the time it is diagnosed, very limited patients having SCLC are helped by surgery. Surgery is advisable only when there is only one tumor that too has not spread. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy is required after surgery.

Combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy is administered on people with extensive SCLC. However, the treatment is given to relieve symptoms. It cannot cure the disease.

Test & Procedures

The following are some of the tests conducted to detect lung cancer:

  • Regular imaging techniques such as chest X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, PET scans and bronchoscopy (a thin tube with a camera at one end).
  • Physical examinations such as a chest test, blood analysis in the sputum are conducted to know the location of the tumor and its effect on additional organs.
  • Biopsy is a method by which cancer is detected by extracting affected cells and examining them under microscope.
  • After diagnosis, the oncologist tries to know how far the cancer has been spread and the most popular staging method is known as TNM system. In TNM method the stages range from 0 to 4. Lesser the number earlier is the stage of lung cancer. For example, a small tumor which has not affected lymph nodes or any other organs can be staged as T1, N0 and M0.

Preventive Measures

Though there is no sure method to prevent lung cancer, you can adopt some preventive measures to lessen the risk factor. The preventive measures are:

  • Stop smoking if you are a regular smoker. If you have never smoked, don’t start the bad habit. It is equally important to avoid passive smoking too.
  • Get level of radon gas in your home tested. If radon gas level is high inside your home, it can be remedied.
  • Try not to be exposed to toxic chemicals while working.
  • Consume healthy food with lots of fruits and vegetables.
  • Do not consume alcohol.
  • Emphasize more on physical exercise. It is better to consult with the doctor to know what type of exercise is appropriate for you.

Treatment cost

A disease like lung cancer affects your pocket badly. According to researchers’ report, an 18 month course of lung cancer treatment costs approximately $80,000. You have to spend an amount of $800.000 to increase life with cancer by one year. However, the amount varies from one case to another. It depends on the health care system you adopt.

Side Effects

Usually the side effects of lung cancer treatment are temporary. Some of the major side effects are:

  • After surgery the patient may have pain in the chest and arm. Shortness of breath is another side effect after lung surgery.
  • Side effects of chemotherapy are nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, hair loss and fatigue.
  • Side effects of radiation therapy are headache, change in skin, fatigue, hair loss, nausea and vomiting. The patient may face troubles with memory and thought processes.
  • Side effects of photodynamic therapy are cough, difficulty in swallowing, and breathing problem.

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