Lung Cancer F.A.Q

Q: What is lung cancer?

A:  Lung cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the lungs. The lungs are part of the respiratory system, and they help control breathing. Most forms of lung cancer start in the cells inside of the lungs and spawn from there. The cells are based in the lines of lungs, although they can be anywhere. As is characteristic of all forms of cancer, the growth of these abnormal cells can be uncontrollable without proper treatment.

Q: What are symptoms of lung cancer?

A: Patients may not see any symptoms of cancer early on, but common symptoms after that include: coughing up blood, shortness of breath, wheezing, sudden weight loss, fatigue, chest pain, and sustained coughing. These will depend on what kind of cancer a patient has. Other possible symptoms include: joint pain, nail problems, difficulty swallowing, voice changes, drooping eyelids, bone pain, tenderness, shoulder pain, facial paralysis, swelling of the face, swelling of the arms and difficulty swallowing.

Q: What are early signs of lung cancer?

A: In the early stages of cancer, it is possible to not have any symptoms at all. Some patients only discover their cancer because of an x-ray in the doctor’s office. There are some common indicators of the problem. Most patients will experience a cough that will not go away, and they may experience multiple bouts of pneumonia, bronchitis, or similar conditions. Since lung cancer impacts the ability to breathe, shortness of breath is also common.

Q: How do you get lung cancer?

A: The most common cause of lung cancer is smoking cigarettes. There is no direct connection between smoking and lung cancer, but it can make the body more susceptible to the problem. Other factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing lung cancer include asbestos, lung cancer in the family, radon gas, high levels of air pollution, arsenic in the drinking water, and exposure to common cancer causing chemicals (uranium, vinyl chloride, nickel chromate, etc).

Q: Is lung cancer curable?

A: While there is no official cure for lung cancer, it is possible for a person to go through treatment to reduce lung cancer symptoms. Some common treatments include chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation. A person’s cancer can go into remission from those treatments, but it can come back at any time. There are specific treatments needed for specific types of lung cancer, so patients must speak to a doctor to see what is right for them.

Q: What is the definition of lung cancer?

A: Lung cancer is, quite simply, a form of cancer that develops in the lines. Cancer itself is the growth of abnormal cells in the body, and these cells are derived from the lines in the lungs. This cancer can spread to other parts of the body, but it will start within the lungs somehow. There are two types of lung cancer that a patient can be diagnosed with, and each type requires a unique treatment.

Q: What are signs of lung cancer in women?

A: Lung cancer signs and symptoms are fairly similar between men and women. Most women who develop lung cancer will find themselves having trouble breathing, and they may notice a persistent cough that will not go away. Some experience chest pains, and others see a change in their choice or pattern of speech. There are, however, many women that do not experience any potential signs of lung cancer until the problem has progressed through the body.

Q: What are early signs of lung cancer?

A: Early signs of lung cancer may be moderate to non-existent. The lungs are a part of the body’s breathing system, so most of the signs of lung cancer will be derived from that. A patient may have a cough, chest pain or difficulty breathing. He or she may also experience changes in the pattern and tone of the voice. Consistent respiratory infections, like bronchitis and pneumonia, may also be an early indication of lung cancer.

Q: What is survival rate for lung cancer?

A: The five year survival rate for lung cancer depends on what factors a person looks into. The rates will vary based on race and gender, but they can also vary based on the stage of cancer a patient is going through. 2010 rates for lung cancer were 70% in patients with stage 1 cancer, but only 35% for stages 2 and 3. Stage 4 cancer patients only showed a 5% survival rate in that data.

Q: What is non small cell lung cancer prognosis?

A: Non small cell lung cancer is one of two types of cancer in the world. It is the most common type diagnosed, and it tends to spread with less speed than small cell cancer does. There are three forms of this cancer type, namely adenocarcinomas, large cell carcinomas, and squamous cell carcinomas. These all relate to the area of the lung where the cancer is located. Large cell carcinomas can occur anywhere in the lung.

Q: What is stage 4 lung cancer?

A: Stage 4 lung cancer is lung cancer that has progressed to the most widespread state possible. Since many patients do not even know that they have lung cancer until it is too late, over 40% of the first diagnoses doctors give out are for stage 4 lung cancer. Catching cancer symptoms before they reach this stage is ideal because that can prevent the spreading of cancer cells in the body. Treatment can develop from there.

Q: What are new lung cancer treatments?

A: Common treatments for lung cancer include radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. However, there are current studies that involve the timing of these treatments to see if there is a way to more effectively kill cancer cells. Patients may try maintenance treatments, which are just extensions of the initial treatments they go through. This will impact the cancer cells when they are already weak and hopefully eliminate them. Scientists are constantly researching options to cure lung cancer.

Q: What is secondary lung cancer?

A: Secondary lung cancer is lung cancer that forms as a result of other cancer cells in the body. This form of lung cancer does not actually start in the lungs. It just develops there as the body is affected by other cancer cells. This usually happens in one of the later stages of another form of cancer, but it can be treated just like any other form of cancer. Surgery is the most common treatment.

Q: Can lung cancer be cured?

A: Lung cancer cannot be cured per se, but it can be treated. Some patients experience better results from their treatment than others, depending on the severity of their cancer at the time of treatment. Patients with the best chances of surviving lung cancer are the ones that get treated early on. There is a 70% survival rate for patients treated during the first stage, so speak to your doctor soon if you are at risk.

Q: What are the 2 types of lung cancer?

A: There are two types of lung cancer: small cell lung cancer and non small cell lung cancer. NSCLC is the most common form of lung cancer, and it affects about 80% of patients who are diagnosed. The other 20% experience a slightly faster progressing form of lung cancer, and they must go through more aggressive treatments to prevent spreading. A patient may have both types of cancer, which is referred to as a mixed case.

Q: How can lung cancer be detected?

A: Many people cannot detect lung cancer because they do not experience any side effects from it initially. There are several tests to determine if a person has lung cancer, including an MRI of the chest, a CT scan of the chest, chest x-ray, blood work, positron emission therapy, and a sputum cytology test. Those will indicate if a person has potential cancer spots. Additional testing may be needed to see if lung cancer is present.

Q: How is lung cancer diagnosed?

A: To confirm that a person has lung cancer, a doctor must remove a piece of a patient’s lung to test it for the presence of cancer cells. There are many biopsies available to test this out. Some of them include pleural biopsy, open lung biopsy, CT scan directed needle biopsy, bronchoscopy, and endoscopic esophageal ultrasound. The results of the tests will indicate whether a person has lung cancer, and what stage that cancer is in.

Q: Are clinical trials part of lung cancer treatment?

A: A patient can go through clinical trials for lung cancer medications and treatments if he or she would like. This opens the door for risky but potentially innovative solutions that could improve the state of lung cancer. Otherwise, patients can use treatments that have already been clinically tested to improve the presence of their lung cancer. Results of the trials will vary from one user to the next, but some people have no other options.

Q: How common is lung cancer?

A: Lung cancer has become the most common form of present in modern society. The US National Cancer Institute estimates that one out of every fourteen men and women in America will be diagnosed with lung cancer at some point in their lifetimes, and those results may be even higher in other parts of the world. Cancer is not contagious, but it has become more prevalent based on the spread of smoking and cancer related genes.

Q: Why is early lung cancer screening important?

A: Early lung cancer screening will allow doctors to catch the presence of cancer in the body early on and potentially prevent it from spreading to other areas. Each stage of cancer causes more potential problems later on, and the survival rates for high level cancer patients are low. There is a 70% chance of 5 year survival for patients with stage one lung cancer, but there is only a 5% chance for stage four patients.

Q: What tests can be done to check for lung cancer?

A: There are many initial tests that can be used to detect the possibility of lung cancer. Those include chest x-ray, CT scans, MRIs, positron emission tomography scans, sputum cytology tests, and blood work. From those, a doctor can move onto the following to confirm the presence of cancer: pleural biopsy, CT scan directed needle biopsy, open lung biopsy, endoscopic esophageal ultrasound, mediastinoscopy with biopsy, and bronchoscopy. Doctors will analyze those results to diagnose lung cancer.

Q: Am I at risk of developing lung cancer?

A: You could be at risk of developing lung cancer if you are a smoker. Patients who start smoking early on in life and stay consistent with the habit are more at risk of developing lung cancer than others. If you live in a polluted area or work around radon and asbestos, you may be at risk of developing lung cancer. Other risk factors include radiation therapy, arsenic in drinking water, and exposure to harmful chemicals.

Q: Is chemotherapy an option for lung cancer?

A: Chemotherapy is an option for the treatment of lung cancer. Chemotherapy works by killing the cancer cells in the body that are most likely to divide rapidly. This treatment is highly effective, but it can come with serious side effects. It can temporarily weaken the immune system and cause a person to lose his or her hair. For some patients, this is the solution that leads them into remission. Other treatments are available beyond chemotherapy.

Q: Can surgery alone cure lung cancer?

A: In some cases, surgery may be able to remove all of the cancer present in the body. However, many patients have to go through radiation therapy or chemotherapy to stop the growth of cancer in the body. You may have success with surgery alone, but the cancer could come back in the future. Patients are more likely to get rid of cancer through surgery in the early stages of lung cancer. Early cancer screenings help.

Q: What is the prognosis for lung cancer that is caught early?

A: If lung cancer is caught early enough in its development, it can be successfully cured or maintained. Some symptoms of lung cancer do not show up until the second or third stages. Early cancer success rates are more than double those for stage two and stage three patients, depending on the demographic you examine. The best way to treat cancer is to catch it when it first develops, and screening tests can help do that.

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