Lung Cancer Treatment in India
When the cells suddenly start to grow uncontrollably/ abnormally then they form into a tumor which turns out to be cancerous. The lung cancer usually originates in the cells that are developed in the air passage. Instead of forming the health lung tissues, the cells start to divide quickly forming an accumulation of cells that is tumor. Also known as bronchogenic cancers or bronchogenic carcinomas, lung cancer have got the tendency to grow and further spread to other organs through the process known as metastasis.
Based on the appearance of the lung cancer cells that can be seen under the microscope, two types of lung cancers are found most commonly -
- Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) – Around 85% of all lung cancers comes under this category. This is a common term used for many types of lung cancers such as adenocarcinoma, squamous and large cell carcinoma.
- Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) – The main cause of this type of lung cancer is heavy smoking. This type of cancer is not that common as NSCLC type.
Causes Lung Cancer
Some of the common causes that leads to cancer disease are -
- Smoking – Smoking is the most common and major cause of lung cancer. Quitting smoking as early as possible significantly lowers the chances of developing lung cancer anytime in the future.
- Direct exposure to second hand smoke – Being exposed to secondhand smoke increases the chances of lung cancer.
- Exposure to radon gas – Natural breakdown of uranium in the soil, rock and water produces radon gas. Unsafe levels of exposure to radon gas increases the chances of developing lung cancer.
- Exposure to asbestos and other carcinogens – People who work in places high on asbestos and other carcinogen substance accumulation are at high risk of developing lung cancer especially if they are smokers.
- Family History of lung cancer – People who have parents, grandparents or siblings who have suffered with lung cancer are more at risk of having it themselves anytime in the future.
Symptoms & Stages of Lung Cancer
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of lung cancer are -
- Suddenly developing chronic cough that doesn’t go away
- Coughing up blood
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Losing weight without trying
- Bone pain
Before considering the method of treatment it is important to diagnose the stage of lung cancer. There are four stages in lung cancer -
Stage 1 – Cancer is restricted to the lung
Stage 2 – Cancer can be found in the lymph nodes nearby to the lungs
Stage 3 – This stage has further got subdivisions-
(3a) Cancer has been formed in the lungs and lymph nodes of the same side.
(3b) Cancer has been formed in the lung and has spread to the other side of the lymph nodes.
Stage 4 – The cancer can be seen on widespread area- lungs, other organs and even the surrounding tissues.
Procedure Before The Treatment
Before the doctors commence with the treatment of lung cancer, certain diagnosis test are conducted such as -
- Physical Examination – chest examination, analysis of blood in the sputum, and also some other types of tests come under physical examination.
- Chest X-ray
- CT Scan
- MRI Scan
- PET Scan
- Fine needle aspiration (Biopsy)
Other than all of these tests, molecular testing is also performed by the doctors to exactly diagnose the type and stage of the lung cancer.
Once all the tests are performed and the stage as well as type of lung cancer has been ascertained, the process of curing the lung cancer starts. It may include a surgery and then certain sessions of chemotherapy as well as radiation therapy.
Process During The Treatment
During the early stages of lung cancer, surgery is the best option to completely remove the tumor and nearby lymph nodes, completely curing the cancer. Based on the different kinds and location of lung cancers there are various types of surgeries such as –
- Wedge resection of the lung-removal of a portion of one lobe.
- Lobectomy-removal of one lobe.
- Pneumonectomy-removal of an entire lung.
- Lymphadenectomy- removal of lymph nodes in the region of the lungs.
Types of Therapies Used in Lung Cancer Treatment
1 - Radiation Therapy
In radiation therapy lung cancer tumors are destroyed or at least minimized with the use of high-energy X-rays or some other types of radiation. Radiation therapy can be given as- palliative therapy, adjuvant therapy or as a curative therapy.
2 - Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy can be used on both NSCLC as well as on the SCLC type of lung cancer. It is a strong medical procedure and can be infused in form of intravenous infusion, pills or in some cases, a combination of both.
3 - Targeted Drug Therapy
As the name suggest, targeted drug therapy specifically targets the abnormalities formed in the cancer cells to destroy them. It has been proven that some of the drugs used during this procedure have also shown the signs of strengthening the immune system against the cancer cells.
Duration of Recovery
Right after the surgery, the patient is transferred to the recovery room until the effect of anesthesia fades away. In some cases the patient is transferred to the intensive care unit (ICU) to further stabilize the condition of the body by keeping on ventilator.
After the surgery, it takes somewhere around a week’s time to get discharged from the hospital after which the patient is shifted on palliative care that involves further medication and notable changes in living style to cure any side-effects of the overall treatment.