Lung cancer is a malignancy that develops from the epithelial tissue of the lung. There are two forms of cancer: central lung cancer that comes from the bronchus and peripheral cancer that develops from the lung tissue itself.
Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers. Despite all efforts to prevent it, the incidence has increased several dozen times since the beginning of the 20th century.
In many countries, lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer among men. This is primarily due to the fact that the initial stages of lung cancer are almost asymptomatic and patients go to the doctor too late.
Causes of the disease
The cause of any malignant disease is cell DNA damage, which occurs under the influence of various environmental factors. In the case of lung cancer, such factors may include smoking, working in harmful industries, inhaling different resins, coke, esters, and other harmful substances. Increased lung cancer incidence among miners, workers in the steel, woodworking, metallurgical, ceramic asbestos cement, and phosphate industries.
According to statistics, lung cancer is much more common among people who smoke than among non-smokers. The explanation for this fact is quite simple. Tobacco smoke contains both physical and chemical carcinogenesis factors in large quantities. About 80% of patients with this pathology are smokers.
The development of lung cancer may be preceded by chronic inflammatory processes: chronic pneumonia, bronchiectasis disease, chronic bronchitis, scars in the lung after previous tuberculosis, etc.
Symptoms of lung cancer
- shortness of breath;
- chest pain;
- weight loss.
Unfortunately, the symptoms of lung cancer are not specific, i.e. they are typical for many respiratory diseases. That is why patients do not go to the doctor immediately, and diagnosis in many cases is not timely. Identifying most of these signs should alert you and make you see a doctor as soon as possible. Also, attention should be paid to such indirect signs as lethargy, apathy, loss of proper activity. Attention should be paid to small unreasonable increases in body temperature. A small fever may mask lung cancer as sluggish bronchitis or pneumonia.
What can you do?
If you or someone close to you is diagnosed with lung cancer, you should start treatment immediately and act according to the doctor's recommendations. As tempting as the suggestions are, try not to resort to self-treatment and non-conventional medicine.
In more than 15% of people, the initial stages of lung cancer are completely asymptomatic, which means that only an annual check-up can suspect the presence of lung cancer. In USA, such an examination is an annual fluorographic image or X-ray. If a tumor-shaped blackout is detected on the image, the "lung cancer" diagnosis is not removed until it is proved otherwise. The following methods can be used for further diagnosis of lung cancer:
- computed tomography;
- transthoracic puncture;
- puncture biopsy of lymph nodes;
- determination of oncomarker levels in the blood.
What can a doctor do?
Depending on the form and stage of lung cancer, an oncologist will prescribe the necessary treatment program. The surgical method of treatment, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy are applied. None of these methods is equivalent, and, as a rule, they are prescribed in combination.
The prognosis for lung cancer depends primarily on the stage of the process at which it is diagnosed, as well as the histological picture of the tumor.
Lung cancer can metastasize to the lymph nodes of the lung root, mediastinum, and more distant groups around the neck, in the supraclavicular region. Lung cancer may also spread to the liver, bones, brain, and the second lung.
Prevention of lung cancer
Preventive measures include the timely and correct treatment of various inflammatory processes in the bronchi and lungs to prevent their transformation into chronic forms. A very important preventive measure is smoking cessation. Those working in harmful industries with high dust levels should use personal protection methods such as masks, respirators, etc.