Lung Cancer Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer
in the developed world. Here are some frequently asked questions about the
symptoms, causes and treatment of the disease.
The vast majority ? over 80% - of lung cancers
are caused by smoking tobacco or by indirect exposure to tobacco smoke (passive
smoking). The other main causes are breathing industrial chemicals such as
asbestos, arsenic and polycyclic hydrocarbons or the natural radioactive gas,
radon. Like most cancers, the risk of lung cancer increases with age. The
longer you smoke, the greater your risk. Very few cases are diagnosed in people
under 40 and the most common age of diagnosis is between 70 and 74. In the US 91,000 men
and 79,000 women are diagnosed with lung cancer each year. In the UK the figures
are 23,000 men and 15,000 women. A. There are very few, if any, inherited
conditions that increase the risk of lung cancer in non-smokers. However, not
all of the people who smoke get lung cancer and there may be an inherited component
which influences whether or not smoking will cause lung cancer. This is still being investigated, but
research to date has not found any link between diet and lung cancer. A. There
are four main types of lung cancer: small cell lung cancer, squalors cell
carcinoma, large cell carcinoma and Aden
carcinoma. Tobacco smoking is strongly linked to the first three but only
weakly linked to Aden
carcinoma. However, this type of lung cancer has been linked to the use of
low-tar cigarettes. There are a variety of symptoms of lung cancer, including
difficulty breathing, coughing up blood, chest pain, loss of appetite, weight
loss and general fatigue. Some lung cancers do not cause any noticeable
symptoms until they are quite advanced and have spread to other parts of the
body. A. Lung cancers are sometimes first detected on routine chest X-rays.
However, the main method of diagnosis is bronchoscopy, in which a thin,
flexible tube is inserted down the airways (under anesthetic), allowing doctors
to see the inside of the lungs and even take a biopsy (a sample small of the
suspect tissue). A CT
scan, liver ultrasound or bone scan may also be used to find out if the cancer
has spread. A. Drug treatment (chemotherapy) is the usual treatment for small
cell lung cancers, because they usually spread too quickly for surgery to be
useful. Radiotherapy is also often used. For the other types of lung cancer,
surgery is first used to remove the main tumour, if it has not spread too far.
If surgery is not possible, then radiotherapy is used instead. Depending on the
type of tumour and how advanced it is, chemotherapy can be used in different
ways: either to shrink the tumour before surgery or after surgery to kill off
any remaining cancer cells. A. Lung cancer is one of the most dangerous
cancers. The available treatments can prolong the patient?s life, but complete
cures are very rare. Four out of every five lung cancer patients die within one
year of being diagnosed. Only one in twenty is alive five years after
diagnosis. Many of these are people diagnosed with early squalors cell
carcinomas, which can be treated successfully by surgical removal. A. The drug
treatments cause bruising, fatigue, hair loss, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
However, the nausea and vomiting can now be reduced or even eliminated by
special drugs. The hair loss may be partial or complete, but it is always temporary.
The hair will grow back.