Munson Health
 
Lung Cancer

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by LaRusso L

(NSCLC; Non-small Cell Lung Cancer; Non-small Cell Bronchogenic Carcinoma; Small Cell Lung Cancer)

 

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of lung cancer include:
  • Smoking
  • Using chewing tobacco
  • Being exposed to second-hand smoke
  • Being exposed to asbestos or radon
  • Having a lung disease, such as tuberculosis
  • Having a family or personal history of lung cancer
  • Being exposed to certain air pollutants
  • Being exposed to coal dust
  • Radiation therapy that was used to treat other cancers
  • HIV infection
 

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will also ask about:
  • Smoking history
  • Substances that you have been exposed to
  • Family history of cancer
Tests may include:
Imaging tests evaluate the lungs and other structures. These may include:
The physical exam combined with all of your test results, will help to determine the stage of cancer you have. Staging is used to guide your treatment plan. Like other cancers, breast cancer is staged from I-IV. Stage I is a very localized cancer, while stage IV indicates a spread to other parts of the body.
 

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to eliminate the cancer and/or control the symptoms.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is the use of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. This may also be used to relieve symptoms, such as shortness of breath. External radiation is usually used to treat lung cancer. With this treatment, radiation is directed at the tumor from a source outside of the body.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. This may be given in many forms, including pill, injection, and via a catheter. Chemotherapy is often used to kill lung cancer cells that have spread to other parts of the body.

Newer Treatments

Researchers continue to study ways to treat lung cancer. The National Cancer Institute considers these potential therapies:
  • Photodynamic therapy (PDT)—A type of laser therapy. A chemical is injected into the bloodstream. It is then absorbed by the cells of the body. The chemical rapidly leaves normal cells. It will remain in cancer cells for a longer time. A laser aimed at the cancer activates the chemical. This chemical then kills the cancer cells that have absorbed it. This treatment may also be used to reduce symptoms.
  • Cryosurgery—A treatment that freezes and destroys cancer tissue.
Other treatments that are being researched include:
  • Targeted therapy—involves using medications or substances to target certain molecules in the cancer cells
  • Immunotherapy—involves using medications or substances made by the body to increase or restore the body's natural defenses against cancer
 

Prevention

To help reduce your chance of getting lung cancer:
The American Lung Association and American Cancer Society both suggest that screening for lung cancer with a type of CT scan may be considered if you are a smoker (or former smoker), aged 55-74 years, and have a history of heavy smoking (such as one pack a day for 30 years).
 

RESOURCES

American Cancer Society
http://www.cancer.org

American Lung Association
http://www.lung.org

 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Cancer Society
http://www.cancer.ca

The Canadian Lung Association
http://www.lung.ca

 

References


Cancer immunotherapy. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003013-pdf.pdf. Accessed August 15, 2014.


Lung cancer (non-small cell) American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003115-pdf.pdf. Updated August 15, 2014.


Lung cancer CT screening: is it right for me? American Lung Association website. Available at: http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/lung-cancer/lung-cancer-screening-guidelines/lung-cancer-screening-for-patients.pdf. Accessed August 15, 2014.


Munden RF, Swisher SS, Stevens CW, Stewart DJ. Imaging of the patient with non-small cell lung cancer. Radiology. 2005;237(3).:803.


Non-small cell lung cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 30, 2014. Accessed August 15, 2014.


Non-small cell lung cancer treatment. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/non-small-cell-lung/patient. Updated June 30, 2014. Accessed August 15, 2014..


Targeted cancer therapies. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Therapy/targeted. Updated April 25, 2014. Accessed August 15, 2014.


11/12/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: National Cancer Institute. Lung cancer trial results show mortality benefit with low-dose CT. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/newscenter/pressreleases/NLSTresultsRelease. Accessed August 15, 2014.

 

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