More than one diagnosed cancer affects the lungs, and lung cancer is still the most common cause of cancer deaths among American men and women. In 2012, there were more than 160,000 deaths of lung cancer, more than the deaths of breast, prostate and colon cancer combined.
At the same time, it is good that a large number of lung cancer can be prevented. Inhaling carcinogens such as tobacco smoke can cause changes in the lung tissue shortly after exposure - so-called precancerous changes. However, cancer usually develops over a period of several years, and if it is detected at an early stage, it can often be successfully treated with different treatments.
Testing of healthy people for lung cancer
People with increased risk for lung cancer may consider annual screening of lung cancer by low-dose CT scan. Probing lung cancer is usually offered to people older than 55 who have been smoking and otherwise healthy for many years. Talk to your doctor about the risk of lung cancer (please follow the link on Consultation General Medicine). Together, you can decide if your lung cancer screening is right for you.
Tests for the diagnosis of lung cancer
If there is a reason to believe that you have lung cancer, your doctor may determine a number of tests to look for cancer cells and exclude other conditions.
Tests may include:
Image tests. A radiological picture of your lungs may reveal an abnormal mass or lump. CT scanning can detect small lesions in your lungs that cannot be detected on the X-ray.
Sputum cytology. If you cough and produce sputum, sputum under the microscope can sometimes detect the presence of lung cancer cells.
Tissue sample (biopsy). A sample of abnormal cells can be removed in a procedure called a biopsy.Your doctor can make a biopsy, including a bronchoscopy, in many ways, where your doctor examines the abnormal areas of your lungs with an inflamed tube that went through your throat and lungs; a mediastinoscopy, in which a cut at the bottom of the neck is cut, and the surgical tools are inserted behind the blood and collect tissue samples from the lymph nodes; and a needle biopsy in which your doctor uses X-ray or CT images to guide the needle through the chest wall and the lungs to collect suspected cells.
A biopsy sample can also be taken from lymph nodes or other areas where cancer has spread, such as the liver.
A careful analysis of your cancer cells in the laboratory will reveal which type of lung cancer you have. Sophisticated test results can tell your doctor about the specific characteristics of your cells that can help determine your prognosis and guide your treatment.
Tests for determining the extent of cancer
When lung cancer is diagnosed, your doctor will determine the level (stage) of your cancer. The stage of your cancer helps you and your doctor decide which treatment is most appropriate.
Stage tests can include shooting procedures that allow your doctor to look for evidence that cancer is spread outside your lungs. These tests include computer tomography, MRI, PET and bone scans. Not all tests are suitable for everyone, so ask your doctor for procedures.
You and your doctor will choose a cancer treatment plan based on a variety of factors, such as your overall health, type and degree of cancer and your wishes.
In some cases, you can choose not to undergo treatment. For example, you may think that the side effects of treatment will outweigh the potential benefits. When this happens, your doctor may suggest a comfortable cure for just symptoms of cancer, such as pain or difficulty breathing.
Lung cancer surgery
During surgery, your surgeon works to eliminate lung cancer and a healthy margin of tissue. Procedures for the elimination of lung cancer include:
Cut out an angle for removing a small part of the lungs containing a tumor of a healthy margin of tissue
Segmental resection for the removal of multiple lungs, but not the entire lobe
Lobectomy to remove the entire lung of the lung
Pneumonectomy to remove the entire lung
If you have surgery, your surgeon can also remove the lymph nodes from your chest to look for signs of cancer.
Surgery can be an option if your cancer is limited to the lungs. If your lung cancer is more important, your doctor may recommend chemotherapy or radiation before surgery to reduce cancer. If there is a risk that cancer cells stay behind surgery or your cancer recurs, your doctor may recommend chemotherapy or radiation after surgery.
Advanced surgical techniques such as minimally invasive surgery and video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) can reduce the time that you need to spend in the hospital after a lung cancer operation and help you to resume normal activities early. Studies show that people who undergo minimally invasive lung cancer operations in hospitals that perform many of these operations each year have less pain and less complications. Surgeon Mayo Clinic performs more than 900 VATS procedures every year.
Radiotherapy uses high energy from sources such as X-rays and protons to kill cancer cells. During radiation, you lie on the table as the machine moves around you, directing the radiation to certain points in your body.
For people with locally advanced lung cancer, radiation therapy can be used before surgery or after surgery. It is often combined with chemotherapy treatments. If surgery is not an option, chemotherapy combined with radiation therapy can be your main treatment. For advanced lung cancer and those that spread to other parts of the body, radiation therapy can help alleviate symptoms, such as pain.
Compared to standard radiotherapy techniques, newer, more precisely targeted treatments can be more effective and cause less side effects. The Mayo Clinic offers state-of-the-art radiation planning and treatment technologies, including radiation therapy with intensity, volumetric modulated arterial therapy, radiographic image-focused therapy and proton therapy.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. One or more chemotherapeutic drugs can be administered through the vein in your hand (intravenously) or taken orally. A combination of medications is usually given in a series of treatments over a period of weeks or months, with interruptions so that you can recover.
Chemotherapy is often used after a surgical procedure to kill all remaining cancer cells. It can be used alone or in combination with radiotherapy. Chemotherapy can also be used before a surgical procedure for reducing cancer and facilitating removal. In people with advanced lung cancer, chemotherapy can be used to relieve pain and other symptoms.
Stereotactic radiotherapy, also known as radiosurgery, is an intense radiotherapy therapy that targets many radiation rays from many angles in cancer. Treatment with stereotactic radiotherapy is usually supplemented by one or more treatments. Radiosurgery may be an option for people with small lung cancer who cannot undergo surgery. It can also be used to treat lung cancer that spreads to other parts of the body, including the brain.
Targeted drug therapy
Targeted drug therapy focuses on specific abnormalities in cancer cells. By blocking these abnormalities targeted drug treatments can cause cancer cell death. Many targeted therapeutic drugs are used to treat lung cancer, but most are reserved for people with advanced or recurrent cancer.
Some targeted therapies work only in people whose cancer cells have certain genetic mutations. Your cancer cells can be tested in the lab to see if these medications can help.
Immunotherapy uses your immune system to fight cancer. The immune system against the disease in your body can not attack your cancer because cancer cells produce proteins that blind cells of the immune system. Immunotherapy works by mixing in this process. Immunotherapy treatment is generally reserved for people with advanced lung cancer. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have made an important finding that has led to immunotherapy treatments called immune surveillance inhibitors that revolutionize care for people with metastatic lung cancer.
People with lung cancer often have signs and symptoms of cancer, as well as side effects of treatment. Care support, also known as palliative care, specializes in areas of medicine that include working with a doctor to reduce signs and symptoms. Your doctor may recommend that you become familiar with the palliative care team shortly after diagnosis to make sure you are comfortable during and after cancer treatment.
In one study, people with advanced non-small lung cancer cells who began receiving care shortly after their diagnosis, live longer than those who continued treatment such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. People who receive support have reported improved mood and quality of life. They survived, on average, nearly three months longer than those who received standard care.
The lung cancer stages are labeled with Roman numerals ranging from 0 to IV, the lowest phase indicating lung cancer. In Stage IV, cancer is considered advanced and spread to other areas of the body.