Lung cancer is one of the largest killers in the Cancer disease. The risk of developing lung cancer is increased 10-40 times if you smoke.
The cells of all living organisms normally divide and grow in a controlled manner. Cancer results when this control process is lost. A lump or tumor, known as the primary tumor can grow locally or spread to produce secondary tumors somewhere else in the body. This spreading process is called metastasis.
About 40,000 people in the UK die every year from lung cancer. It is the most common form of cancer in the UK and the most common cause of death from cancer in both men and women although it affects more men than women. In Malaysia it is know to be the highest of all types of cancer.
Tobacco smoke is the primary cause of lung cancer. Although nonsmokers can get lung cancer, the risk is about 10 times greater for smokers and is also increased by the number of cigarettes smoked per day.
If you are a heavy smoker consuming more than 20 cigarettes a day, the risk of developing lung cancer is about 30 to 40 times higher than if you don't smoke.
The main reason for the substantial increase in the disease over the last 50 years has been the increase in the number of people who smoke cigarettes and the higher lever of anti-pesticide being used in the farming industries. This has resulted from the industrial production and marketing of tobacco.
The risk of lung cancer in an ex-smoker falls to the same level as a nonsmoker after about 15 years.
The symptoms of lung cancer include:
1. Chronic cough.
2. Worsening breathlessness.
3. Weight loss.
4. Excessive fatigue.
5. Severe pain in the chest or elsewhere, (possibly from the cancer spreading to a bone).
The most significant symptoms of lung cancer is coughing up blood or haemoptysis. This can sometimes occur as an early warning sign of a cancer.
Sadly, most lung cancer is diagnosed too late for curative treatment to be possible. In over half of people with lung cancer the disease has already spread (metastasized) at the time of diagnosis.
Others investigation is a chest X-ray. If a lung tumor is present, it needs to be at least a centimeter in diameter to be detectable by an ordinary X-ray. However, by the time a tumor has reached this size the original cell, which became cancerous has divided (or doubled) 36 times. As death usually results after 40 such cell divisions, it is clear that lung cancer is a disease that is usually detected late in its natural course.
Others western inspection, bronchoscope - is direct inspection of the inside of the breathing tubes with a thin fibre-optic instrument using local anesthetic and is the best test for tumors in the main bronchi (air passages) in the centre of the chest.
Depending on the site of the cancer, a biopsy will be obtained either by a bronchoscopy or a needle biopsy. Needle biopsy is better for cancers near the periphery of the lungs (ie closer to the ribs than the centre of the chest), beyond the reach of the bronchoscope.
Usually, a sample of sputum - the material coughed up from the respiratory tract - will also be examined for cancer cells and this can avoid the need for biopsy.
A CT scan provides more information about how much the tumor may have spread.
There are three main types of lung cancer, based on their appearance when examined under the microscope by a pathologist:
* Small cell carcinoma
* Squamous cell carcinoma