Information about Lung Cancer
Statistics from the World Health Organization or WHO show that lung cancer is the number one cause of death in all cancers. In 2012, there were 1,590,000 deaths recorded worldwide. In Thailand in 2008 there were 8,403 people diagnosed with lung cancer. Lung cancer is more common in men than women; it is also more prevalent in the elderly.
Causes of Lung Cancer
Lung Cancer will involve a tumor in the lung which grows rapidly and can spread to adjacent and surrounding organs. It occurs as a result of cell abnormality that is uncontrollable.
External factors are:
- Cigarette smoking and second hand smoking
- Air pollution
- Carcinogens found in environment such as Radon gas and Asbestos
- Some metals such as aluminum product and cadmium compounds
Internal factors may include:
- Deterioration of cells causing inability to repair itself.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Lung Cancer
Symptoms may include
- Respiratory symptoms: Chronic cough, coughing up blood, wheezing, shortness of breath.
- Systemic symptoms: weight loss, weakness, fever, or clubbing of the fingernails
- Other symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, pain radiating down the arm, ptosis, sweating irregularities, swollen face and neck, headache, back pain, incontinence and weakness
Diagnosis of lung cancer
- Examination of medical history and a health check-up.
- Lung X-ray, Computerized Tomography (CT scan) and MRI scan
- Confirmation of the existence of lung cancer by pathology tests such as a biopsy.
- PET/CT scan will be conducted to determine the stage and distribution of the cancer
Treatment of Lung Cancer
Treatment for lung cancer will depend on the stage of cancer, patient's physical condition, doctor's opinion, and patient consent. There are 2 main types of lung cancer; Small cell Lung Cancer and Non-Small cell Lung Cancer.
Small-cell lung cancer
- The main treatment choice is Chemotherapy with the goal of destroying cancer cells at the beginning to prevent them from spreading to other organs.
- It is supported by radiotherapy to maximize efficiency of controlling or isolating the cancer.
Non-small cell cancers
- To remove cancer cells, main treatment approach is surgery.
- Combination therapy can be provided with chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and radiotherapy, as required to maximize chances of effective treatment.
- In cases where the cancer has spread, chemotherapy and radiotherapy may be considered, as well as Targeted Therapy.
Radiotherapy for lung cancer treatment
Diagnosis and treatment monitoring by PET/CT scan
Content by: Dr. CHATCHAI KOOWATTANAPAISAN Internal Medicine, Medical Oncology, Wattanosoth Hospital