The Ins and Outs of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Research shows that around 80% of all lung cancers are the non-small cell kind. Non-small cell lung cancer or NSCLC can be of three types itself, namely squamous cell carcinoma, large cell undifferentiated carcinoma, and adinocarcinoma. In NSCLC cancer cells develop in lung tissue.

Smoking is the number one cause of all kinds of lung cancer and inhaling secondhand smoke also increases the risk of developing lung cancer. Lung cancer can also be caused by environmental toxins, high air pollution levels, and contact with asbestos, soot, tar, and arsenic. A combination of these risk factors increases the chance of someone developing NSCLC.

The early stages of NSCLC do not show up any symptoms. But gradually you may become aware of the following: unremitting cough with blood in it, wheezing or shortness of breath, loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss, chest pain and fatigue, joint or bone pain, weakness and difficulty in swallowing, increasing hoarseness in the voice, facial swelling or paralysis.

All the above symptoms could be related to any disease but if they occur then the possibility of NSCLC should be ruled out by referring to a physician.

Your doctor will carry out a thorough physical exam and doubtless ask if you smoke and, if you do, how long you have smoked.

The usual gamut of tests will be run then involving CT and PET scan, MRI, bone scan, chest x-rays, and a sputum test. You may also have to undergo a biopsy when a piece of tissue is removed from your lungs and examined.

A bronchoscopy may also be carried out to identify abnormal areas in the lung.

Thoracentesis involves removing fluid from the space between the lung and the chest lining so a pathologist can study it for cancer cells.

The tests will reveal at what stage the cancer is: whether it is contained within the inner lining of the lung; whether it has spread to lymph nodes in the vicinity of the first tumor; if it has spread to tissues or lymph nodes away from the original site of the tumor; and if it has spread to other parts of the body such as the liver or brain.

Surgery is the first option of treatment for NSCLC in the first two stages of the cancer. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy help to kill the cancer cells and prevent new ones from growing. With laser therapy a small light is used to burn cancer cells.

A combination of these therapies can be used to treat the patient. Patients who are in the last stage of the disease, where the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, will benefit from chemotherapy as it will help improve the quality of life even though there is no cure.

To prevent the possibility of contracting NSCLC, quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke. Also, improve your diet by eating more vegetables and fruits. Improve your lifestyle by including exercise in it. It is never too late to adopt a healthy way of living when the alternative is a disease like cancer.

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