Categories
Cancers

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is also known as lung carcinoma. Like other cancers, lung cancer is characterized by uncontrolled cell division. As the name suggests, lung cancer starts in the lung tissue. Also like other cancers this cancer growth can spread to other parts of the body in a process called metastasis.

Lung cancers that originate in the lung are called primary lung cancers, and they are for the most part carcinomas.

There are 2 main types of lung cancers, small cell lung carcinomas and non small cell lung carcinomas.

Small Cell Lung Carcinoma

Small cell lung cancer accounts for approximately 15% of all lung cancer cases worldwide. Patients going to the doctor for the first time have experienced symptoms for approximately 2-3 months before visiting a doctor.

Small cell lung carcinoma under microscope
Small cell carcinoma under a microscope. This is a fast acting cancer typically responsive to chemotherapy.

2 main types of small cell lung cancer

  • Small cell carcinoma – also known as oat cell cancer is a highly malignant form of lung cancer. This type of cancer has a 10 year survival rate of 3.5%.
  • Combined small cell carcinoma – this is a small cell lung cancer that also contains cells that have non small cell carcinoma as well.

Small cell lung cancer grows and spread in different ways depending on the types of cells that the cancer originated in and are classified based on cell type.

Small cell lung cancers have the following characteristics

  • Small cell lung carcinoma spreads very quickly
  • Small cell lung carcinoma grows very rapidly
  • Small cell lung carcinoma responds well to chemotherapy
  • Small cell lung carcinoma responds well to radiation therapy

Small cell lung cancer symptoms

  • Persistent cough
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in the chest that is worsened with deep breaths
  • Hoarse voice
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Swelling of the face and hands
  • Loss of appetite

Small cell lung cancer risk factors

  • Tobacco smoke
  • Radon exposure
  • Asbestos exposure
  • Exposure to radioactive materials
  • Arsenic exposure
  • Air pollution exposure
  • Genetic factors

Small cell lung cancer diagnosis

Non Small Cell Lung Carcinoma

Non small cell carcinoma refers to all types of epithelial lung cancer other than small cell lung carcinoma. Non small cell carcinoma accounts for about 85% of all lung cancer cases and they are relatively not responsive to chemotherapy when compared to small cell lung carcinoma.

Non small cell carcinoma under a microscope
Non small cell carcinoma under a microscope. This cancer typically less responsive to chemotherapy.

3 main types of non small cell lung carcinoma

Non small cell lung carcinoma typically comes in three forms; Squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma and large cell carcinoma. There are other types of non small cell lung carcinomas such as carcinoid tumors and plemorphic carcinoma but they are very rare when compared to the others.

Squamous cell lung carcinoma

Squamous cell lung carcinoma (epidermoid carcinoma) typically starts in the lining of the air passage ways of the lungs called the bronchi. Typically these cancers are located at the center of the chest and could even at the joints of the trachea to the bronchi. Smoking tobacco products has a very strong correlation with developing squamous cell lung carcinoma.

Large cell lung carcinoma

Large cell lung carcinoma make up approximately 10% of all Non small cell lung carcinoma cases. Large cell lung carcinoma typically develops on the outer tissue of the lung and because of this normal symptoms of other lung cancers such as persistent cough or infection seem to be more subtle with large cell lung carcinoma. Symptoms typically are just shortness of breath and an overall fatigue.

Lung adenocarcinoma

Lung adenocarcinoma is another form of non small cell lung cancer. This type of cancer makes up approximately 50% of all non small cell lung carcinomas. This cancer is the most popular lung cancer for woman, Asians and people are under the age of 45. Oddly enough this cancer is most prevalent in non smokers and those who have quit smoking then it is in people who presently smoke tobacco products. Like large cell lung carcinoma, lung adenocarcinoma also begins in the outer tissue of the lung and therefor has more subtle symptoms at the early onset of the disease.

Non small cell lung carcinoma symptoms

  • Persistent cough
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in the chest that is worsened with deep breaths
  • Hoarse voice
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Swelling of the face and hands
  • Loss of appetite

Non small cell lung carcinoma risk factors

  • Radon exposure
  • Asbestos exposure
  • Air pollution
  • Radiation treatment to breast and/or chest
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Dust
  • Genetic factors

Non small cell lung carcinoma diagnosis

Conclusion

Lung cancer is a very serious disease. Overall lung cancer has an over 5 year survival rate of approximately 56%. Lung cancer is difficult to diagnose early, hence the low survival rate. Only 16% of all diagnosed lung cancer cases are diagnosed in early stages of the disease and this makes survival rates lower for lung cancer.

Screening and watching for early symptoms is key, as well as staying away from harmful chemicals, pollution and smoking.