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Lung Cancer –A breath for life

Mar 30, 2017

Lung Cancer –A breath for life

According to the World Health Organisation, cancer has killed 8.8 million lives worldwide in 2015 and accounts for every 1 out of 6 deaths globally. Out of these, around 25% people succumb to lung cancer alone. This makes it the most common cancer in both men and women together. Lung cancer is caused by the growth of abnormal cells in either or both lungs which do not grow into healthy tissues, rather divide forming rapid tumours and reduce the ability of lungs to provide the bloodstream with oxygen. These tumours might vary from malignant tumours to benign tumours depending on whether they spread to other parts of the body or not; malignant tumours being the more harmful ones that do in contrast to the benign ones which do not. 85% of cases of lung cancer are due to long-term tobacco smoking and the rest 15% is caused by a combination of genetic factors and prolonged exposure to harmful radiation, gas or other forms of air pollution.

One of the major concerns associated with lung cancer is that it is asymptomatic, i.e., it shows no symptoms unless an advanced stage is reached. However, few signs that might help recognise it are coughing, shortness of breath, weakness, clubbing of fingernails, chest pain, bone pain, difficulty in swallowing etc. The first step of investigation to know if a person is suffering from lung cancer is to perform a chest radiograph. On being diagnosed, the malignant cells are further studied and classified into small-cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) or non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) for therapeutic purposes. Also, an assessment of the degree of cancer known as lung cancer staging is done to plan the therapy that would cater to the individual needs of the patient. Usual methods of treatment include a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, and radiation therapy. Owing to its degenerative nature, there have been very few cases where lung cancer could be completely cured, however, these methods help to control the fatal disease and increase the life span of the patients.

Disclaimer: The information given in this write-up is purely for educating the reader. It is not meant to be a substitute for any advice from a medical expert.

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