Lungs are made of complex tubes called bronchi (air passages) that allow air to flow in and out via your trachea (windpipe). When malignant growths in the tissues that line these tubes occur, Lung Cancer develops.
Currently, there are two main types of Lung Cancer:
- Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer - the most common type of lung cancer.
- Small Cell Lung Cancer - less common, but spreads quickly to other parts of the body through the blood.
Not surprisingly, the main cause of Lung Cancer happens to be tobacco smoke from sources such as cigarettes, pipes, and cigars. Though not everyone who smokes will eventually get lung cancer, the harmful substances within smoke can still damage lung cells. Those who inhale 'second-hand' smoke from nearby smokers are just as at risk of Lung Cancer.
There are other risk factors that can contribute to Lung Cancer such as:
- Being older than 40 years — most people are older than 65 years when they are diagnosed with Lung Cancer
- Have contact with some substances such as radon (a radioactive gas), asbestos, arsenic, chromium, nickel and air pollution
- Have family members who have a history of lung cancer
In its early stages, Lung Cancer often does not show any signs or display any symptoms. However, as the cancer cells multiply and grow, patients may experience the following symptoms:
- A cough that gets worse or does not go away
- A hoarse voice
- Breathing trouble such as being short of breath
- Constant chest pain
- Coughing up blood
- Feeling very tired all the time
- Frequent lung infections, such as pneumonia
- Weight loss without a cause
Other health problems can also cause these symptoms, but you should first consult your doctor if you experience these symptoms.
Currently, Gleneagles Hospitals offers four main courses of treatment for Lung Cancer patients:
- Chemotherapy to shrink or kill the cancer
- Radiation therapy (high-energy X-Rays) to kill the cancer cells
- Surgery to remove the tumour and some lymph nodes (glands)
- Targeted therapy to block the growth and spread of cancer cells