Lung cancer is one of the most common cancer across the world which carries greater mortality than other common cancers such as colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer collectively.
The lungs are part of a respiratory system and have very important functions to do in the body. Lungs basically help to bring oxygen to other organs and tissues in the body and it also helps to take out carbon dioxide out of the body.
Cancer is life-threatening and it occurs when the normal cells in the human body become cancerous. Normally, the human body consists of trillions of cells and these cells have some built-in rules that tell them about their action. In medical terms, these rules are known as genes and whenever any problems occur in genes, it can lead to the development of cancerous cells. When the cells in the body begin to grow uncontrollably it causes cancer.
There are multiple types of cancer and when the cells in the lungs go out of control and lead to the formation of a tumor, it is known as lung cancer. Lung cancer is accompanied by a wide range of symptoms and some of the common symptoms that occur during lung cancer include a persistent cough, chest infection, problems with breathing, blood with a cough, fever, unexplained weight loss, and hoarseness of the voice.
Types of Lung cancer
There are various different types of lung cancer which are categorized depending on the type of cell affected. Primarily there are two main types of lung cancer:
Small Cell Lung Cancer
Sometimes small cell lung cancer is also known as oat cell cancer. Small cell lung cancer usually starts in the middle of the lungs and it progresses rapidly. It spreads more quickly as compared to non-small cell lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer is grouped into two stages:
- Limited stage disease is confined to the ipsilateral hemithorax and can easily be encompassed within a tolerable radiation field.
- Extensive stage disease goes beyond that ipsilateral hemithorax and it may include malignant pericardial effusion.
Non-small cell Lung cancer
Non-small cell lung cancer is a more common type of lung cancer and almost 85% to 90% of all cases of lung cancer are of this type. Non-small cell lung cancer have subtypes:
- Adenocarcinoma - It is usually found in the outer part of the lungs and it is slower in progression as compared to other types of lung cancer. Almost 40% of all lung cancer patients suffer from this type of lung cancer.
- Squamous cell carcinoma - It is usually found in flat cells that line the inside of the airways in the lungs. These cells are known as squamous cells. Almost 25% to 30% of all lung cancer patients suffer from squamous cell carcinoma.
- Large cell carcinoma - It can be found in any part of the lungs and it is the fastest growing type of lung cancer. It grows and spread rapidly. Almost 10% to 15% of all lung cancer patients suffer from large cell carcinoma.
Stages of Non-small cell lung cancer
Non-small cell lung cancer is grouped into four stages. In the first stage, the cancer is diagnosed but it has not been spread outside the lungs. In the second stage, cancer has been spread to the nearby lymph nodes. In the third stage, cancer is found in the lymph nodes on the same side of the chest where cancer started or cancer is found in the lymph nodes but on the opposite side of the chest where cancer started. Lastly, the fourth stage is the final stage in which cancer is found on both sides of the lungs, areas around the lungs, and into the distant organs.
Possible causes of lung cancer
The development of lung cancer occurs through a multistep process which involves various genetic and epigenetic alteration. It can include the activation of growth-promoting pathways or the inhibition of tumor processing pathway. Some of the things that can trigger the development of lung cancer are as follows:
Cigarette smoking is one of the most common causes of lung cancer. Multiple studies have stated that most of the patients who are diagnosed with lung cancer are smokers. The primary reason for this association is that cigarette smoking consists of thousands of chemicals and most of them are poisonous.
These chemicals are so poisonous that they can cause damage to the tissues in the body and the body has to fight continuously in order to heal the damage caused by the chemicals. Over time, as the damage continues, the body fails to heal and as a result, it leads to the occurrence of lung cancer. Second-hand smoke is also a risk factor for lung cancer. The risk of developing cancer depends on the duration an individual is smoking and the number of packets a person smokes.
Radon gas is also one of the triggers of lung cancer. Excessive exposure to radon gas could lead to the development of lung cancer. Radon gas is defined as a radioactive gas which is released from the decay of uranium in the soil and rock. This gas is diffused into the air.
Radon gas is naturally presented in minerals, soil, and rock and from there it can easily be diffused in the air and mixes with other gases in the atmosphere. We all live in the air that contains radon gas but in the small concentration. When the concentration of radon gas increases, the risk of developing lung cancer increases.
Yes, air pollution can contribute to the development of lung cancer. The environment or the air in which we breathe plays a vital role in the health of an individual. If we live in a polluted environment, the risk of suffering from illness increases to a great extent. Similarly, an outdoor polluted environment can trigger the symptoms of lung cancer. There are a different number of things that can make the air polluted or unhealthy for an individual to live such as pollution and smoke.