Anando Sangbad:Lung cancer is one of the most common and serious type of cancer. The symptoms usually go unnoticeable unless it is widely spread. Cancer of the lung, like all cancers, results from an abnormality in the body’s basic unit of life, the cell. Normally, the body maintains a system of checks and balances on cell growth so that cells divide to produce new cells only when new cells are needed. Disruption of this system of checks and balances on cell growth results in an uncontrolled division and proliferation of cells that eventually forms a mass known as a tumour.
Tumours can be benign or malignant; when we speak of “cancer,” we are referring to malignant tumours. Medical professionals can usually remove benign tumours, and these tumours do not spread to other parts of the body. Malignant tumours, on the other hand, often grow aggressively locally where they start, but tumour cells also can enter into the bloodstream or lymphatic system and then spread to other sites in the body.
“Proper awareness of such a killer disease is still lacking and it gets too late when it is diagnosed. The time when it is diagnosed it has either spread too much or it has become inoperative. At present lung cancer is diagnosed in quite younger age groups for example, 40 to 45 years which is very alarming, as that’s one of the most productive age of a man’s life. There are three types of treatments for a lung cancer: radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery. The best treatment where lung cancer stands a chance of cure is surgery but for surgery the lung cancer must be diagnosed early. When we get patients it is usually late, but we do get cases where a patient has come for a health check-up or some other ailments and we find an unsuspected lesion in the lungs which may turn out to be an early stage of cancer” says Dr. Ranjan Das, consultant, Department of Respiratory Medicine, CK Birla Hospitals, CMRI.
Dr. Das also explains, “The size of the cancer will also determine the stage of the cancer which in turn determine the type of treatment. At times, the lung cancer may enter the bronchus or trachea and can cause bleeding further causing a severe respiratory distress. We in CMRI have different modalities to deal with endo bronchial tumour or endo tracheal tumour. A technology called cryosurgery is done in such cases where with the help of cryo we remove bronchial tumours. Though it’s not a permanent solution it can bring a temporary relief to the patients. Electrocautery through bronchoscope is also used for removal of tumour which lies within trachea or bronchi. These are minimally invasive techniques and it usually takes 1 or 2 sitting to remove the tumour depending on its bulk but once it’s done a patient is symptom free for quite some time.”
Cancer on the other hand is directly related with tobacco consumption and pollution. Not all smokers get lung cancer, but majority of lung cancer patients are smokers. But there’s no doubt that smoking is the biggest risk factor, causing 9 out of 10 lung cancers.
In addition to cigarettes, cigar and pipe smoking or Hookahs are also linked to lung cancer. The more you smoke and the longer you smoke, the bigger your chance of developing lung cancer.
Most of the cases which are diagnosed by lung cancers are usually late because the symptoms of lung cancer and chronic bronchitis, which is also a result of tobacco consumption are quite similar. Lung cancer also comes with cough, breathlessness, and sometimes a tinge of blood from the sputum. Shortness of breath happens when you are not taking in enough oxygen and your lungs try to draw in more air to make up for it. The symptom can also be an indirect result of lung cancer as chest infections can also cause breathlessness and people with lung cancer can be more prone to infections.
Other lung cancer symptoms include:
A persistent cough or change in nature of cough
Coughing up blood
Unexplained tiredness and weight loss
An ache or pain when breathing or coughing
Maintain a healthy life style and quit smoking and be careful of not polluting the air. It is important to spread the message of pollution free air and work towards it for combating this killer disease.