Not only is lung cancer the most common cancer worldwide, it affects both sexes equally. It is the most common cancer in men and the third most common in women.
At the same time, lung cancer is also by far the most common cause of cancer death and is responsible for nearly 25% of all cancer deaths.
Every year, more people die from lung cancer than from colon, breast and prostate cancer combined.
Lung cancer is caused by cells in the lungs dividing uncontrollably, leading to the growth of tumors. These restrict the ability to breathe and spread to other parts of the body.
The 2 main types of lung cancer
The first type is non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which accounts for about 80% to 85% of lung cancer cases.
Subtypes here, originating from different lung cells, are adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma; in prognosis and treatment, these subtypes are often very similar.
The lung cancers adenocarcinoma and adenocarcinoma occur mainly in people who currently smoke or used to smoke, and is also the most common type of lung cancer in people who do not smoke. More commonly diagnosed in women than men, it is just as likely to occur in younger people than other types of lung cancer.
Typically, adenocarcinoma, which is found in the outer parts of the lungs, is discovered before it has spread, and people with this lung cancer usually have such a better outlook than people with other types of lung cancer.
Squamous cell carcinomas, on the other hand, arise in the squamous cells, which are the flat cells that line the inside of the airways in the lungs. They usually occur in the middle part of the lung, near a main airway (bronchus).
Large cell carcinoma, on the other hand, can occur in any part of the lung and tends to grow and spread rapidly, making successful treatment much more difficult.
Again, there are subtypes, such as so-called large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma; an extremely fast growing cancer that is very similar to small cell lung cancer.
The second main type of lung cancer is small cell lung cancer (SCLC), which account for about 10-15%. That type of lung cancer grows and spreads faster than non-small cell lung cancer. Also, this type of lung cancer has already spread in about 70% of people at the time of diagnosis. Because this cancer grows quickly, it usually responds well to chemotherapy and radiation; however, this type of cancer eventually returns in most people.
Symptoms of lung cancer
Symptoms often appear at a late stage, making prognosis and treatment more difficult.
In cases where symptoms appear earlier, they are often very similar to those of a respiratory infection.
Common mild symptoms include:
Changes in the voice(example hoarseness), frequent chest infections (such as bronchitis or pneumonia), persistent worsening cough, shortness of breath or chest pain.
With these milder symptoms, of course, it is quite difficult to assign them, which makes a timely visit to the doctor all the more important.
At the same time, more severe symptoms may also occur.
These include severe chest pain, bone pain and fractures, coughing up blood, blood clots, and loss of appetite or weight loss.
Different stages of lung cancer
Staging is veimportant in cancer because it describes how far it has spread in the body and how severe it is.
Deciding on an appropriate course of treatment is highly dependent on the stage.
One classification and distinction is that between localized and regional, i.e. the limitation of the cancer to a certain area or an already happened spread of the cancer to nearby tissues.
Similarly, the TNM staging system (Trusted Source). Medical professionals assess the tumor by size and spread, whether or not it has affected the lymph nodes, and whether or not it has spread elsewhere.
Stage separation also exists with respect to non-small cell and small cell lung cancer.
In staging for non-small cell lung cancer, tumor size and spread are usually used:
Hidden: Cancer is not seen on scans, but cancer cells may still appear in the mucus.
Stage 0: Abnormal cells are already in the top layer of cells lining the airways
Stage 1 in that the tumor is already in the lungs, but is no larger than 4cm and has not yet affected other parts of the body.
Stage 2 means that the tumor is still smaller than 7cm, but has already spread to tissues and lymph nodes.
In stage 3, the spread has moved to the lymph nodes and other lung segments before the cancer has spread to more distant body parts and boils in stage 4.
Small cell lung cancer can also be divided into different stages:
Here, the stages are referred to as limited and extensive and refer to whether the cancer has spread inside or outside the lungs.
When limited stage is mentioned here, it means that the cancer affects only one side of the chest. At the same time, the cancer may already be found in surrounding lymph nodes.
Approximately 33% of all cancer patients are diagnosed with cancer in this limited stage; radiation therapy is often used here.
If the cancer is in the extended stage, the cancer has already spread and accordingly lungs or other parts of the body are already affected.
Unfortunately, about two-thirds of those affected learn of lung cancer at that extended stage.
When talking about the risk factors , must be considered differentiated.
There are a number of risk factors that cannot really be controlled or prevented, such as previous radiation therapy, air pollution to which people are exposed on a daily basis at home or at work, and, for example, a genetically determined higher risk due to family history.
At the same time, there are some factors that can be reduced and mitigated. The most obvious and effective way to reduce the risk for the largest group of people affected would be to stop smoking.
About 80% of all lung cancer deaths are due to smoking: An absolutely staggeringly high number.
The more one smokes and the longer one smokes, the higher the risk!
Cigarettes, cigars or pipes: Which medium is used plays an insignificant role in the risk and incidence of disease.
Also the myth of harmless smoking of light cigarettes with lower tar content and their reduced risk is not correct: the risk remains the same.
An exception is smoking menthol cigarettes, which even represents an increased risk.
Another factor that can be reduced and actually eliminated completely is secondhand smoke, because breathing in the smoke of others also increases the risk of lung cancer, even if you don’t smoke or have never smoked.
More than 7000 deaths occur annually from that secondhand smoke, an abnormally high number considering that this could be so easily averted by smokers consistently not exposing others to this danger.
Diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer at Wiener Privatklinik
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