These Are The Facts You Should Know About Lung Cancer

Health |

Cancer is a very scary, very deadly disease. It’s a scary disease that we here, in the US only face, but it’s deadly worldwide. Cancer does not discriminate and believes in equality. It will attack women, men and children just the same. According to cancer.gov1, the most common forms of cancers are breast, lung and bronchus, prostate, colon and rectum, melanoma of the skin, bladder, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, kidney and renal pelvis, endometria, leukemia, pancreatic, thyroid, and liver cancer. This feels like it narrows the window of possibility to not contract the disease. Sadly enough, 1.7 million new cases of cancer were diagnosed in 2018 and it’s estimated that 610K people will end up falling to the disease. In many studies, the mortality rate amongst men who get cancer is higher than women who have cancer.

It’s understandable why there is such a large push to find a cure for the disease, but all there is at the moment is science and treatments that can help us battle the disease and hope that a cure will be found one day. This unfortunately does not bring much comfort to the families who have suffered, or who are currently suffering from the impacts the disease has on everyone’s world who is involved. According to the same cancer statistics on cancer.gov2, the number of new cancer cases per year is expected to increase to 23.6 million by 2030. With Cancer medication being amongst the largest pharmaceutical class globally, sitting above a $24 billion pain drug market according to cnbc.com3, it’s hard to imagine the incentive for drug companies to find an actual cure verses something that’ll manage the symptoms. As morbid as that sounds, sickness and pain are big businesses.

Amongst the many cancers we have to hope and pray we don’t contract, is one of the most common and deadliest lung cancer. According to cancer.org4 , Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women. In the same article5, it was found that about 13% of all new cancers are lung cancers. Though there is a 1 and 15 chance for men and 1 in 17 chance for women to get lung cancer, these chances become exponentially higher for smokers as opposed to non-smokers. Amongst races, black men are said to be more likely to develop lung cancer than white men, when black women are less likely to develop the disease in the lungs than white women.

The prognosis could appear to be very grim when diagnosed with lung cancer, but it should be said if the disease is caught early enough, it could be treated and beaten. Many times, the problems arise when people don’t recognize the signs and catch the disease when it’s too late. If people recognized the signs that something was off, the odds of beating the disease will increase greatly. To give you an idea of what that looks like, that are currently over 430K people living today who have been diagnosed with lung cancer, so there is a great chance of survival if it’s managed early enough. Here are some very important facts about lung cancer people should know to help their chances in beating the disease.

The Warning Signs of Lung Cancer

When you start having symptoms of lung cancer, it’s important to get checked out right away. Similar to cold or flus, symptoms are signs of something that’s already been there. It doesn’t mean it’s too late, but it does mean it’s time to get doctors involved to make sure if cancer is present, everyone can get ahead of it. Here are some common symptoms to watch out for:

  • Chest pain increasing in intensity when engaged in activities that involved deep breathing; such as, laughing and coughing.
  • A persistent cough
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of appetite
  • Persistent bronchitis, pneumonia, or other infections
  • Coughing up blood
  • Feeling tired and weak

Lung cancer is known to attack other areas of the body over a period of time, so symptoms tend to morph and change into other issues. You may notice changes to the nervous system, including poor balance or you may even start having seizures. Jaundice is common, as is chronic bone pain. Lumps forming near the surface of the body may also appear.

How is Lung Cancer Diagnosed?

Image scans are generally used to detect and diagnose lung cancer. Typically, blood tests are conducted, but not for lung cancer. Image scans are generally looking for the presence of cancer cells. Here are a few tests that could be expected when diagnosing lung cancer.

  • X-ray
  • CT Scan
  • MRI Scan
  • PET Scan
  • Bone Scan
  • Bronchoscopy

How is Lung Cancer Treated?

There are multiple options for treating lung cancer. As technology progresses, more avenues will open up and breakthroughs will be made in ways to assist cancer patients. Here are a few common options.

Surgery

Surgery is very invasive and challenging. Any time a human body is required to be cut into, great risks will always be present. They would most likely need to remove some of the lung’s lobes. In some cases, depending on where the tumor is located, the entire lung may need to be removed.

Radiofrequency Ablation

Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) is a lot less invasive than surgery, but also is working to rid the body of smaller tumors located in different areas of the lung. Energy waves are used to destroy the small tumors and stop their growth. There are very little side effects that come along with this treatment.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy may be used to shrink tumors down to more manageable sizes and could be accompanied by other treatments. It is commonly prescribed when patients are not able to undergo surgery. In some cases, it’s used after surgery to help destroy straggling cancer cells.

Chemotherapy

We hear about Chemotherapy a lot when speaking of fighting cancer. A special drug is administered via IV and used in parallel with radiation therapy. This may be used to assist with surgical treatments and to help shrink the tumors.

In conclusion, cancer no longer has to be a death sentence and it can be managed if you catch it early enough. To be able to catch it early enough, requires an understanding of the symptoms you could, so you could get help right away. 


Sources: 

1 https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/statistics

2 https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/statistics

3 https://www.cnbc.com/2016/04/27/americans-consume-almost-all-of-the-global-opioid-supply.html

4 https://www.cancer.org/cancer/non-small-cell-lung-cancer/about/key-statistics.html

5 https://www.cancer.org/cancer/non-small-cell-lung-cancer/about/key-statistics.html 

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Edward Arroyo

Writer

Edward attended college at Northwestern University where he received his bachelors in journalism. After graduation he spent the next several years traveling the world writing about his experiences on his own personal blog. His hobbies include travel, photography, bicycling and hanging out with his dog Milo.