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The lung is an organ in the human body the principle function of which is gas exchange between the breathed air and blood. The lungs consist of bronchi, which come from trachea. The bronchi branch into smaller air ways, known as the bronchioles that end in sacs called alveoli, which form the site for the gaseous exchange. Lung cancer arises from uncontrolled division and proliferation of cells related to the lungs which eventually produce a tumor. Normally, lung cancer forms a malignant tumor which grows aggressively invading other tissues through a process known as metastases (Alberg 31). Notably, lung cancer tends to metastasize during its early formation; consequently, it is a life threatening cancer which is difficult to treat. It can easily spread to other organs, and importantly, adrenal glands, brain, bone and liver are the main sites for lung cancer metastasis.
Types of lung cancer
Generally, there are two common forms of lung cancer, small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The classification takes into account the presence of microscopical cells of the tumor. Inherently, SCLC comprises of about 20 percent of lung cancers and is the most aggressive form of lung cancer which grows rapidly. According to the cell appearance, as seen while examining with microscope, the cancers are often referred to as the oat-cell carcinoma (Johnson 113). On the other hand, NSCLC is the most widespread form which has three types, namely the adenocarcinoma which arises in the peripheral parts of the lungs; squamous-cell carcinoma, that is common in the central part of bronchi, and large-cell carcinoma.
Causes of lung cancer
The major causes of lung cancer include tobaccoism, asbestos fibers, radon, genetic amenability, lung diseases, prehistory of lung cancer and air contamination. About 90 percent of the lung cancers arise as a result of tobacco smoking. The risk is higher in cigarette smoking than a pipe or cigar smoking, although they also contribute to the lung cancer (Alberg 34). Inherently, tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, most of which are carcinogenic. Similarly, asbestos fibers are silicate fibers which normally persist for a life time in the lung tissues after asbestos exposure. Radon gas, which is the product of uranium, has ionizing radiation, and contributes to about 12 percent of lung cancer related deaths in the U.S. The prehistory of lung cancer and peculiar genetic amenability are other factors that cause lung cancer in human beings. Moreover, the presence of lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive lung disease raises the risk of lung cancer developing. Further, about 1 percent of the cancer deaths are attributed to breathing the polluted air.
Symptoms and signs
Despite the fact that attributes of lung cancer are diversified, according to where and how widespread cancer is, some of the common symptoms of lung cancer include presence of blood in the sputum, appearance of severe cough that worsens to a chronic cough. Moreover, there could be chronic bronchitis or recurrent respiratory infections, together with pains in chest. This normally is accompanied by quick weight loss along with fatigue and breathing difficulties like wheeze or short breath (Alberg 38).
Diagnosis of lung cancer
Most of the common tests and diagnostic manipulations that are employed by doctors in diagnosis of lung cancer include the anamnesis and medical exam, the chest skiagram, CAT (computerized axial tomography; or CT, computerized tomography) scans, low dose helical CT scanning, MRI, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Bone scanning, Sputum cytology, Bronchoscopy, Needle biopsy or Fine needle aspiration, Thoracentesis, Major surgical procedures and Blood tests. Inherently, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses magnetics, radio waves and a computer for production the images of body structures; while bronchoscopy involves visualizing of the airways while using a thin fiber-optic probe (Johnson 115).
Lung cancer staging
The phase of cancer describes the measure of extent that the cancer spreads in the human body. Commonly, staging is the process of evaluation of the cancer size, together with its spreading into other surrounding organs. The process includes indentifying existence or absence of metastases in other organs (Johnson 116). The process is crucial in determining how lung cancer will be treated, as well as evaluating the forecast of a patient. Normally, the doctors employ several tests, such as the laboratory tests, CT scans, X-rays, MRI scans, PET scans and bone scans, in order to check at what stage the lung cancer is. If tests depict any abnormality, then this could be a sign of metastases, and consequently, radiological manipulations can be used.
Treatment of lung cancer
Treatment of lung cancer normally involves surgical interference and cancer removal, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or the combination of them. The decision on the appropriate method is influenced by stage and location of the cancer, not forgetting about the patient’s health. Surgical tumor removal is usually performed only for limited stages, normally stage I and occasionally stage II, and is actually done to the NSCLC cancer that did not expand to other parts of the body. Radiation therapy can be performed for both NSCLC and SCLC, and the method employs high energy X-rays in collaboration with other radiations to kill the cancerous cells (Alberg 49). Chemotherapy can also be performed for both NSCLC and SCLC. The method utilizes the use of drugs which can prevent abnormal growth of the cancerous cells by stopping their division or killing them.
Marks and Stoppler claim that lung cancer is the most common cause of death due to the cancer in the world, and in the United States alone about 157,300 deaths were caused by cancer (1). Consequently, there is a need for prevention, as well as the use of methods for early detection of cancer. Some of the definite ways of preventing lung cancer include quitting smoking, together with eliminating exposure of tobacco smoke. Moreover, the use of radon test-kit in identification and correction of radon level can be very helpful. Similarly, such methods as the helical low dose CT scan that enhances the early detection of cancers can be employed to identify small-sized cancers which could be treated by surgical excision.
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