Delta Medix Patient General Information

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer forms in tissues of the lung, usually in the cells lining air passages. Your lungs are a pair of large organs in your chest. They are part of your respiratory system. Air enters your body through your nose or mouth. It passes through your windpipe (trachea) and through each bronchus, and goes into your lungs. When you breathe in, your lungs expand with air. This is how your body gets oxygen. When you breathe out, air goes out of your lungs. This is how your body gets rid of carbon dioxide. Your right lung has three parts (lobes). Your left lung is smaller and has two lobes. A thin tissue (the pleura) covers the lungs and lines the inside of the chest. Between the two layers of the pleura is a very small amount of fluid (pleural fluid). Normally this fluid does not build up. The two main types of lung cancer are small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.

These types are diagnosed based on how the cells look under a microscope.

Cancer cells can spread by breaking away from the original tumor. They may enter blood vessels or lymph vessels, which branch into all tissues of the body. The cancer cells attach to other organs and form new tumors that may damage those organs. The spread of cancer is called metastasis.

Early lung cancer often does not cause symptoms. But as the cancer grows, common symptoms may include

  • A cough that gets worse or does not go away
  • Breathing trouble, such as shortness of breath
  • Constant chest pain
  • Coughing up blood
  • A hoarse voice
  • Frequent lung infections, such as pneumonia
  • Feeling very tired all the time
  • Weight loss with no known cause

These symptoms may not be due to cancer. Other health problems can cause some of these symptoms. Anyone with such symptoms should see a doctor to be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.

Treatment Options for Lung Cancer

  • Surgery for lung cancer removes the tissue that contains the tumor. The surgeon also removes nearby lymph nodes. The surgeon removes part or all of the lung:
  • Wedge Resection: The surgeon removes the tumor and a small part of the lung.
  • Lobectomy: The surgeon removes a lobe of the lung. This is the most common surgery for lung cancer.
  • Pneumonectomy: The surgeon removes the entire lung.
  • Radiation Therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. It affects cells only in the treated area. You may receive external radiation. This is the most common type of radiation therapy for lung cancer. The radiation comes from a large machine outside your body. Another type of radiation therapy is internal radiation, called brachytherapy. The radiation comes from a seed, wire, or another device put inside your body.
  • Chemotherapy uses anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells. The drugs enter the bloodstream and can affect cancer cells all over the body. Usually, more than one drug is given. Anticancer drugs for lung cancer are usually given through a vein (intravenously). Some drugs can be taken by mouth.
  • Targeted Therapy uses drugs to block the growth and spread of cancer cells. The drugs enter the bloodstream and can affect cancer cells all over the body. Some people with non-small cell lung cancer that has spread receive targeted therapy. One type of targeted therapy for lung cancer is given intravenously at the same time as chemotherapy. Another type of targeted therapy is given alone by mouth.