Friday, February 11, 2011

Cancer : Beware of Lung Cancer

The Lung
The principal function of the lungs is to exchange gases between the air we breathe and the blood. Through the lung, carbon dioxide is removed from the bloodstream and oxygen from inspired air enters the bloodstream. The right lung has three lobes, while the left lung is divided into two lobes and a small structure called the lingula that is the equivalent of the middle lobe on the right.

Cancer of the Lungs
Lung cancers can arise in any part of the lung, but 90%-95% of cancers of the lung are thought to arise from the epithelial cells, the cells lining the larger and smaller airways (bronchi and bronchioles); for this reason, lung cancers are sometimes called bronchogenic cancers or bronchogenic carcinomas. (Carcinoma is another term for cancer.) Cancers also can arise from the pleura  or rarely from supporting tissues within the lungs, for example, the blood vessels.

More men and women are told they have cancer of the lungs each year than any other type of cancer.  With the propensity of regular cigarette smokers to develop lung masses, around eighty percent of lung cancer patients are routine smokers.  Around ten percent are non smokers who live in a house or working condition with other smokers, and the remaining ten percent tend to live in an area with low air quality, such as major cities or factories.  In general, one in three patients can receive surgery that, alone, may be enough to survive.  One third of patients require chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, or a combination of all three to have a chance of survival.  The remaining third have had their cancer spread through lymph nodes, and have a much lesser chance.

For lung cancer patients, a majority need to be placed on pure oxygen in order to have enough lung efficiency to breath normally, while a selected few can go about their day to day lives without much difficulty.  Likewise, cancer symptoms of decreased metabolic capacity and swollen lymph nodes may present in some cancer victims as others show little or no external signs of their condition.

Causes of lung cancer
Although there are numerous reasons for lung cancer, tobacco smoking is considered to be the primary cause of lung cancer. More than 87% of lung cancer sufferers confirm that the cause of lung cancer is tobacco smoking, and for the rest, the cause of lung cancer is an environmental exposure to tobacco smoke. The other causes of lung cancer include exposure to a cancer causing agent in the work place or a family or personal history of lung cancer.

Other types of lungs cancer
Mesothelioma  is a less common type of cancer that can affect the covering of the lungs. It often occurs in people who have been exposed to asbestos. Secondary cancer in the lung  describes the situation where cancer cells have spread to the lungs from a cancer that began elsewhere in the body.There are other rarer types of cancer which can occur in the lungs. These include:
         i.    Carcinosarcoma;
         ii.   Pulmonary blastoma;
         iii.  Malignant melanoma; and
         iv.  Malignant lymphoma 

Treatment of Lung Cancer
The two main types are treated quite differently. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are usually used for small cell lung cancer. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy can all be used for non-small cell lung cancer.  

For more information on lung caner see this video.