Reading Time: 9 minutes
Your body is programmed such a way that after a certain point the cells that form organs in the body, die naturally which is a normal condition. However, in the cases of cancer, these cells instead of dying started to grow unusually leading to the growth of uncontrolled cancerous cells. In the cases of lungs cancer theses cells divide into lungs organ, however, early stages lung cancer diagnosis can save the life of its victim with proper treatment.
The lung is one of the most vital organs in the human body as it is responsible for more essential function needed for survival that is breathing and gases exchange. So if cancerous cells develop or take the form of tumor this vital function of this organ can be disturbed badly leading to a life-threatening scenario.
However early stages diagnosis of this condition can prevent its further growth if immediate treatment procedure is started under the supervision of health specialists. One difficulty in this health concern is that its initial stages recognition is not so easy because in most of the cases the patient doesn’t develop any symptom at all.
Whereas in certain cases the symptoms are very much similar to the respiratory tract infections so it is difficult to identify this health condition. Under the condition of cancer, diseases mutations happen in certain cells other than the healthy cells in the body.
This mutation affects the typical cells dyeing process after a stage or cycles to avoid their overgrowth. As a result of it, the tumor grows which are cancerous in nature. In the cases of lungs cancer, this overgrowth of cells happens in the lungs.
As per the diagnostic report lung cancer has two types, one is a small cell and another one is non-small cell. This division is based on the appearance of these cancerous cells under the microscope device.
Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common than small cell lung cancer. Anyone can develop this life-threatening health condition however the cigarette smoker or a person who somehow have exposure to smoke are most likely to develop this type of cancer.
Other than that if anyone at any point in time of their life has any way comes in the exposure to chemicals or toxins inhalation then they contain a very high risk to develop lungs cancer health condition.
X-ray, CT scan, Sputum cytology, etc are some common imaging tests that are used in the diagnostic process of lungs cancer. As this can affect your overall lifestyle and health so it is very important as soon as you or your dear ones notice its symptoms contact with the doctor without making further delay.
Under the condition of lung cancer, its patients don’t notice any symptoms unless it reaches to its advanced stage. However, in its initial stage, some symptoms develop which seems like a less serious issue but should not be ignored as it can be your lung cancer growing symptoms as well which will be an alarming bell for you.
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss without any effort or trying.
- Breathing shortness
- Unexplained headaches
- Changes in voice develop in the affected person.
- Lingering cough that gets worse with time.
- Frequent infections in the chest occur such as pneumonia or bronchitis.
- Apart from these acute symptoms a person may also develop some severe symptoms such as intense chest pain, coughing with blood and bone pain.
The lungs cancer diagnosis process varies from person to person depending upon their medical history, their specific symptoms and results of the physical examination. However, primarily we can segregate its diagnosis procedure into two-phase, screening and tests.
Lung Cancer Screening
Screening of lung cancer ensures a very early stage detection of this chronic disease in its preliminary stages when you have not developed any symptoms. This early detection facilitates you to get its treatment in order to be safe from its dangerous effects which can happen under the condition if it remains untreated for a very long period.
Under the screening tests if your doctor finds that you may have lung cancer in future then they will recommend for a further diagnostic test to evaluate the type of diseases and to what extent it has spread so far. This early screening test will help your healthcare provider to start the treatment early when your condition will be quite easier to bring under control without any health risk.
Who Must Go for Screening?
Different health organizations in the world such as the American Lung Association, American Cancer Society and the U. S. Preventive Services Task Force suggest that every individual aging 55 or above or if anyone who was long term smoker in their life must go for the screening test to diagnose lung cancer to prevent its growth risk with early-stage treatment if it exists.
Other than aging and smoking factors under certain below-mentioned conditions, you must go for the lung cancer screening tests:
- Anyone who has gone through radiation therapy in the chest at some point in their life to treat cancer.
- Anyone who is spending or has spent lots of time around harmful chemicals or toxins such as arsenic, radon, nickel, asbestos, silica, chromium, cadmium, etc.
- If there is any family history of lung cancer such as in mother, father, grandparents, brother and sister and even children.
- If anyone has already a small cell cancer or head or neck cancer previously.
- If anyone has Pulmonary fibrosis (scarring in the lungs) or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) must go for the lung cancer screening test.
Lung Cancer Diagnostic Tests
After considering your symptoms and screening test if your doctor thinks that you might have lung cancer then he will ask for some diagnostic test to make a conclusion.
The sputum cytology diagnostic test detects cancerous cells in the mucus. Your spit is taken as a sample which further undergoes the laboratory test. To collect your sample you need to take a very deep breath and then should cough with full force to get some up from the lungs in a container which you can submit for the test analysis.
The imaging tests help to clear out the growth of lung cancer in the form of images. This test helps a doctor to figure out whether the growth has spread to other organs and if it happens then it will detect the exact location for starting the accurate treatment. Some very common imaging test referred for this diagnostic process includes the following:
- Chest X-ray- The images of your lungs are taken through the chest X-ray imaging test through the help of low doses of radiation.
- CT Scan (Computed Tomography)- CT scan is much powerful than the X-ray imaging test. In this particular test, more powerful radiations are used to get a very minute detail of your organ which is suspected as cancerous.
This test helps to clear out the size and shape of cancer and its actual position. As per your symptoms and doctor’s recommendation, your chest and belly area scan may be taken so that the doctor can see if you have cancer then whether it has spread to the liver or adrenal gland or not.
- PET (Positron Emission Tomography)- In this particular test one special radiation is used that helps to collect the cancerous cells. After that, a picture is taken of that particular area. This helps your doctor to analyze whether the growth that has appeared in the X-ray test is actually cancerous or not. Also, it evaluates the extent of growth under the condition of cancerous cells existence.
In the biopsy test, a very small amount of cells from your lungs are taken to check under the microscope for cancer existence. This test is done in different ways some of them are mentioned below:
- Needle Biopsy- In the needle biopsy or needle aspiration test, a doctor numbs your skin to remove a very small amount of your tissue for the sample. There are two types of needles used in this type of biopsy one is fine needle aspiration in which a thin needle is used for processing.
Another type of needle biopsy is known as a core biopsy in which slightly thicker and hollow needle is used that removes a piece of tissue along with cells for examination. In the biopsy process, your doctor uses an X-ray or CT scan to guide the needle for locating the exact spot for tissue removal.
- Endoscopic- In the endoscopic ultrasound biopsy your doctor inserts a needle with the help of a lighted tube known as an endoscope to remove tissue.
- Bronchoscopy- In this particular test, your doctor removes tissue for sampling through a thinner tube that he places in your lungs.
- Thoracentesis- In this type of biopsy test a needle placed into the hollow spaces between your lungs and chest wall to get some fluid for testing to verify whether the cells are cancerous or not.
- Open Biopsy- Open biopsy is more advanced than other types of biopsy. In this particular biopsy process, a patient needed to be admitted in a hospital for operating. Anesthesia is given to the patient so that he or she remains sleeping till the whole operating time. The tissue is removed from your chest through cut by the surgeon and then sent for the lab test.
After the biopsy process is dome the removed tissues or cells are sent to a lab where a pathologist check them under a microscope to verify clearly whether any of those cells are cancerous or not. If under the diagnosis test you diagnosed with the lungs cancer then the next step will be discussion regarding your treatment plan.
Your doctor will discuss different treatment plans with you and will guide its associated troubles, side effects, durability, and benefits. Basically, your treatment plan will be designed on the basis of your cancer stage, its growth extent, your age, your past medical history, your current health condition and on the basis of your preferences and plans.
Basically following treatment procedures are conducted to cure lungs cancer disease:-
If your cancer is confined to the lungs, surgery will be the best treatment plan for getting rid of it completely. However, if a patient has developed lung cancer in a larger area then before surgery your doctor will recommend for the chemotherapy and radiation therapy to shrink the extent of your lungs cancer. After that surgery is conducted for removing cancerous cells.
Under the condition where you have a recurrence risk of cancer or if a risk exists that some cancerous cells may be left behind after the surgery then chemotherapy or radiation therapy are recommended after the surgery to destroy the left cancerous cells.
During the lungs cancer surgery, a surgeon removes the lungs cancer along with a margin of healthy tissues to prevent its recurrence risk in future. Some common lung cancer removal surgery procedures include- Wedge resection, Segmental resection, Lobectomy, and Pneumonectomy.
Under chemotherapy drugs are given through veins or orally that kills the cancer cells. It is given on an interval of weeks or months in a series of treatment to provide enough recovery time to the patient. Sometimes chemotherapy is given before the surgery to shrink the larger growth of cancer cells so that it can be removed easily.
Sometimes chemotherapy is given after the surgery to kill any remaining cancerous cells to prevent the recurrence risk of this chronic disease. In the cases of the advanced stage of lung cancer patients, it is given to relieve the symptoms such as pain, etc. of this particular stage of lungs cancer.
In the radiation therapy of lungs cancer treatment, very high doses of energy beams of X-rays and protons are used to kill cancer cells. In this particular process a patient lies down on a table and a radiation machine moves around his body pointing the affected portion of the body.
Radiation therapy is often combined with chemotherapy. In the cases of locally advanced lung cancer radiation therapy may be used before and after the surgery treatment. Under the cases of lungs cancer where surgery is no way an option for the treatment then the combination of radiation and chemotherapy are used for complete relief.
In the cases of advanced lungs cancer or where lungs cancer has spread to other organs, radiation therapy is given to relieve pain and other symptoms.
Radiotherapy is also known as Stereotactic body radiotherapy in which more advanced radiations are used for the treatment to kill cancer cells. In this process, many beams of radiation are given at the many angles of cancer. This treatment process is usually completed in one or two treatments.
Those who are diagnosed with small lung cancer and can’t opt for surgery as its treatment then they can choose radiosurgery as an optional treatment method. Radiosurgery is also effective in cases where lungs cancer has spread in other body organs such as the brain to treat it completely.
The growth of cancerous cells obstructs the normal functionality of your immunity system in the body that has power to fights against diseases growth. This happens because the cancerous cells produce a protein that binds the cells of your immune system.
The immunotherapy cancer treatment process interfere in the process that produces the contradictory proteins in the body. Hence helps in treating cancer cells. It is mostly recommended for the treatment of advanced lung cancer.
Targeted Drug Therapy
The targeted drug therapy focuses on treating some specific abnormal conditions that exist in cancer cells. By obstructing the abnormalities of the cancer cells it forces them to die. There are many approved drugs which are recommended for treating lungs cancer. However, these drugs are primarily recommended in cases of advanced or recurrent lungs cancer.
In the case of genetic mutation, these drugs work very effectively to kill the cancerous cells. At first, your cancer cells are tested in the laboratory to see whether these drugs will work on them or not after that only it is recommended for the cancer treatment.
No doubt it will be a great advantage if a lung cancer diagnosis is done in its very initial stage. However, before planning for any treatment for you make sure that you have a strong emotional backing with you in the form of friends and family members as in this whole treatment as well as recovery process you need regular support to ensure easy recovery and mental strength.