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What is Lung Cancer? What are the Symptoms and Causes?

Lung cancer is a major public health concern, accounting for 25% of cancer-related deaths… Lung cancer will affect 2.7 million people worldwide in 2020, with 1 million and 76 thousand people dying from the disease.

The lungs are an essential organ that permits the body to accept oxygen while also allowing dangerous carbon dioxide to escape. Lung cancer develops as a result of unregulated cell proliferation in lung tissue. This uncontrolled proliferation develops a mass in the lungs and has the potential to spread (metastasize) to other organs. Despite the fact that the research found a substantial association between smoking and lung cancer, 15% of the cases are non-smokers. 50–70 years old is the most typical age range.

What are some of the signs and symptoms of lung cancer?

90% of lung cancer patients seek medical help when they are experiencing symptoms.

The symptoms of cancer differ depending on whether it is localized, metastatic, or broad. Because the lungs and bronchial system are painless, and cough, which is usually the first sign, cannot be evaluated as a symptom by smokers, lung cancer is frequently diagnosed in advanced stages. The following are the most common symptoms and causes of lung cancer:

  • Cough: It can be found in more than 75% of instances. Airway obstruction, infection, and pressure impacts on lung tissue cause it to develop. Cough that lasts more than 3 weeks and changes shape necessitates quick attention from a pulmonary specialist.
  • Weight loss: This symptom is reported in advanced cancer and liver metastases at a rate of 68 percent.
  • Respiratory distress: This symptom, which affects 60 percent of people, might be caused by a tumor obstructing the major airways, an accumulation of fluid between the lung membranes called the pleura, or diaphragm muscular paralysis. Chest pain affects 50% of people at some point in their lives. It’s possible that the cancer has migrated to the chest wall or that nerves are implicated.
  • Spitting blood (hemoptysis): About a quarter of people experience this symptom. It happens when the tumor and necrosis damage the airway.
  • Head and bone pain: When there is bone metastases, it affects 25% of people. Clubbing is caused by a reduction in oxygenation and bone responses.
  • Hoarseness: This could be caused by a problem with the vocal cords.
  • Difficulty swallowing: this arises as a result of esophageal pressure.
  • Breathing problems
  • Wheezing
  • A lack of appetite
  • Ablaze
  • Inflammation of the face and neck
  • Pain in the shoulders and arms
  • Back ache
  • Weakness and exhaustion

Lung cancer is caused by a variety of factors

Smoking is one of the factors that increases the risk of lung cancer, with 80-90 percent of lung cancer patients having a history of smoking. The age at which people begin smoking, the length of time they smoke, the type of cigarette they smoke, and the number of cigarettes they smoke per day all influence their chances of acquiring cancer. When compared to non-smokers, it increases the risk of cancer by 10-30 times. This risk increases dramatically after 20 packs each year. Cigarette smoking was discovered to be directly linked to lung cancer in 90% of women and 79 percent of men.

Environment: Industrial and environmental factors play a role in lung cancer development. There is a link between radon gas, asbestos, air pollution, radioisotopes, heavy metals, and mustard gas exposure and lung cancer.

Genetics: Hereditary factors are thought to play a role in the development of lung cancer. If someone in your family has had lung cancer, your chances of getting it increase by 2.4 times.

Viruses: HIV-positive people are more prone to have lung cancer.

Radiation: Radiation from any source can harm lung tissue, causing bronchial cell structure to deteriorate and carcinogenesis.

Is lung cancer a hereditary disease?

For a long time, cells in the respiratory system may develop mutations in lung bronchial cells due to cancer-causing causes. Through a succession of mutations, these long-term exposures can cause malignant alterations in cells. Anyone can produce aberrant cells of this type. Patients with a family history of lung cancer are more likely to develop these aberrant cells. An adequate immune system, on the other hand, recognizes these cells and either eliminates or restores them. Uncontrolled proliferation increases and malignant tumors emerge as a result of a deficit in the organism’s immune system or in these cells whose family structure has weakened. It develops the property of metastasis and begins to spread to distant organs as a result of other alterations in its biological structure. According to all research, having a family member with lung cancer increases the risk of developing it by 2.4 times.

Lung cancer can be detected early and treated well

With the screening of receptors and genetic abnormalities in persons diagnosed with lung cancer in recent years, progress has been made in treatment and survival rates have improved. Lung cancer, like all cancers, is more likely to be diagnosed early and treated successfully. The type of cancer and how far it has gone at the time of diagnosis have a big impact on survival rates. One in every three patients diagnosed with lung cancer survives at least one year, and one in every twenty survives for ten years.

In some cancers, symptoms that have been present for some time can lead to an early diagnosis. However, in the case of lung cancer, this is not always the case. Lung cancer symptoms and indicators might take years to appear, and it can also spread quietly without causing any symptoms. We are usually dealing with late or advanced lung cancer when we have enough complaints and symptoms to consult a doctor. This is also why the disease’s high morbidity and fatality rates are so high. As a result, lung cancer screenings are performed all over the world for early detection. Patients who are diagnosed at an early stage of the disease have a better chance of being cured if surgery is performed.

As a result, everyone over the age of 40, regardless of risk factors, should get a lung cancer screening. Nonsmokers should undergo a lung x-ray once a year and a lung tomography scan if a suspicious lesion is discovered. Smokers, on the other hand, should make an appointment with a chest illness clinic once a year for a direct low-dose lung tomography test. The most essential diagnostic tool in early diagnosis is lung tomography.

What is the difference between small cell and large cell lung cancer?

Small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer (large cell, adenocarcinoma, squamous cell) are the two main kinds of lung cancer. While both malignancies affect the lungs, they differ in several ways, including how they’re treated and how long they last.

Small cell lung cancer gets its name from the fact that its cells are spherical and small under a microscope. The name “big cell” is also derived from the cell structure’s appearance. Small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for 15% of all cases. Large cell cancer is a less prevalent type of cancer. They can produce identical signs and symptoms. Methods of diagnosis are also comparable.

Small cell lung cancer is staged differently than large cell lung cancer (non-small cell). It has a more aggressive course, and because the cells divide and differentiate at a faster rate, it’s more likely to spread to lymph nodes and distant organs. As a result, small cell lung cancer is divided into two stages: limited (confined to the chest wall) and diffuse (distance metastasized). While surgery is an option for the patient in the limited stage, it is not an option in the extensive stage.

Large cell lung cancer staging is similar to non-small cell lung cancer staging. The TNM is determined by the tumor’s size, lymph node involvement, and distant organ metastasis. While surgery is possible in the first three phases, surgery is not possible in stage four.

Despite the fact that their treatments differ, they share some similarities. Surgical treatment is available for both small cell lung cancer and large cell lung cancer, however small cell lung cancer is less prevalent. Both lung tumors can be treated with radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and palliative care. Immunotherapies and molecular therapies that target genetic mutations, on the other hand, are exclusively successful in non-small cell lung cancer.

Chemotherapy is more effective against small cell lung cancer than against large cell lung cancer. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, or combinations of these treatments can be used depending on the stage of the tumor. Small cell lung cancer has a high chance of spreading to the brain. As a result, even if there is no indication of sickness in the brain, it can be irradiated for health reasons (radiotherapy). Prophylactic radiotherapy is the term for this procedure.

Lung cancer stages

There are four stages of lung cancer.

  1. The tumor is only found in one lung.
  2. The cancer has spread to the lymph nodes on the same side of the lung and has spread unilaterally within the lung.
  3. The tumor has expanded to the pleura or lymph nodes between the two lungs and has spread unilaterally within the lung (mediastinum).
  4. The sickness has spread to other parts of the body (bones, adrenal glands, liver, brain, etc.).

What is mesothelioma (lung cancer)?

While the global incidence is 1-2 per 1 million, in our country, an average of 500 people are diagnosed each year. Exposure to asbestos, often known as “white soil” among the locals, is the main cause of the disease. The condition develops 20–50 years after asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma is a cancer that causes an accumulation of fluid in the chest cavity (between the lung membranes), with acute discomfort and gradual shortness of breath as the most prevalent symptoms. Patients may also experience symptoms such as cough, mouth bleeding, weight loss, loss of appetite, weariness, and weakness. A cytological study of the fluid obtained by thoracentesis or the results of pleural biopsy are used to make the diagnosis. Epithelial, sarcomatoid, and mixt are the three types. While surgery is only an option in epithelial cancers, chemotherapy and radiotherapy are used in other forms.


There are four stages of mesothelioma. Surgical intervention is possible in stages 1 and 2, although chemotherapy and radiotherapy are used in later stages. The amount of fluid collected in the pleurodesis, which is used to correct increasing dyspnea, is frequently a limiting factor in the success of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It is treated surgically using a process that involves full peeling (decortication) of the lung membranes.

Treatment for lung cancer

When planning treatment, the cell type of the tumor and its spread to other organs are taken into account. In the lungs, there are four phases, and the earlier the sickness is detected, the better the chances of recovery. Patients who are diagnosed early enough can have surgery and live for many years. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, molecular, targeted therapies, or other combinations of these therapies can be used to treat the disease, depending on the stage and cell type. In these stages, long-term chemotherapy, targeted medicines, or immunotherapies can give long-term disease control. However, radiological controls are essential at particular intervals due to the danger of treatment resistance and progression. As a result, tumors that are diagnosed early and can be surgically removed have a higher chance of survival.

Lung cancer patients have a shorter life expectancy

As a result of all of these multicenter investigations, early detection of lung cancer improves the odds of survival and cure. In non-small cell lung cancer, this period is prolonged. Despite all of these advancements, lung cancer treatment still has a long way to go. Immunotherapy and smart molecular therapy may offer new hope for lung cancer patients. The quicker a diagnosis is made, the more likely it is that surgery will be performed and that the patient will survive. The goal should be to identify risk groups, conduct screening tests, and identify and treat people in order to diagnose the disease early.

What is Lung Cancer? What are the Symptoms and Causes?

Updated: 19 November 2021, 20:32