Chest cancer or lung cancer is a type of cancer that appears in the lungs. Lungs in the human body are two spongy organs inside your chest that inhale oxygen and exhale carbon-dioxide from your body.
People who are addicted to smoke have a high risk of chest cancer, though this cancer can sometimes also occur in people who have never smoked. Also, the risk of chest cancer tends to increase with time and with the number of cigarettes you have smoked in your life. Even after years of quitting the habit of smoking, you can have high chances of developing chest cancer.
The two common types of chest cancer are as follow:
Small cell chest cancer: This type of cancer tends to appear only in heavy smokers. It is opposite to non-small cell chest cancer.
Non-small cell chest cancer: The non- small cell lung or chest cancer is the term given to several types of chest cancers that have the same characteristics. The non-small cell lung cancer can include adenocarcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma along with large cell carcinoma.
How does chest cancer occur?Smoking is the main cause of lung cancer. However, breathing other hazardous gases for a long period of time can also cause chest cancer. The other substances that cause chest cancer are:
- Petroleum products
Who is prone to chest cancer?There are several risk factors that can make you more prone to developing lung cancer than others and they are:
- Tobacco smoke
- High exposure to radon
- High exposure to elements like asbestos
Knowing about the stages of chest cancer can act as a helpful guide when it comes to treating the same. The chances of a treatment being successful are significantly high when chest cancer is diagnosed in the early stages.
There are 4 main stages of chest cancer:
Stage 1: When the cancer is in its initial stages and has not spread outside the lungs.
Stage 2: The cancer cells start spreading and can be found in the lymph nodes nearby.
Stage 3: The cancer cells successfully cover areas like lymph nodes, middle of the chest.
Stage 3A: In this stage, the cancer cells tend to spread to the lymph nodes and seem to be on the same side where a tumor first started growing.
Stage 3B: The cancer cells spread from the lymph nodes to the chest and the collarbone.
Stage 4: The cancer cells have spread in both lungs, and also to the nearby or distant organs.
What are the symptoms of chest cancer? How is chest cancer diagnosed?The most common signs and symptoms of chest cancer noticeable in the third stage may include the following:
- Worsening or lingering type of a cough
- Coughing up blood or phlegm
- Shortness of breath
- Acute pain in the chest
- Excessive weight loss and loss of appetite
- Weakness and fatigue
- A continuous headache
After examining the condition of your cancer physically, you can undergo the following diagnostic tests:
Imaging tests: This technique involves MRI, CT Scans, X-rays and even PET scans to detect the growth of cancer. These techniques can provide you with more details and even detect the presence of small lesions.
Sputum cytology: if there is phlegm or blood when you a cough, then undergoing this technique for microscopic examination can help you to determine the presence of cancer cells.
What are the complications of chest cancer?
The complications of chest cancer and cause are:
Shortness of breath: Many people suffering from chest or lung cancer may experience difficulty in breathing. This is because the cancer cells spread extensively to block the major airways available in the body.
Coughing up blood or phlegm: Inflammation in airways due to cancer cells can cause bleeding, and this condition is known as hemoptysis.
Metastasis: Cancer generally spreads to other parts of the body, like bones or brain and even nerves.
What is the treatment for chest cancer?
A physician can suggest a cancer treatment plan which will be based on a number of factors like your health, the type, and stage of chest cancer and of course, your preferences. Below are a few types of treatments you can go through for chest cancer:
Wedge resection: This treatment involves removal of a small section of the lung that contains an extensive tumor along with a small margin of the healthy tissue.
Segmental resection: This procedure includes the removal of a larger section of your lung (not an entire lobe).
Lobectomy: This involves the removal of a complete lobe from one lung.
Pneumonectomy: This technique involves the complete removal of an entire lung.
Radiation therapy: This treatment includes high-powered energy radiations from elements like X-rays or protons to kill the cancer cells and tumors.
Chemotherapy: Here, a combination of drugs is generally given in multiple series of the treatment to kill the cancer cells.
Palliative care: This is also known as support care! This involves the use of medications to reduce the signs and symptoms of chest cancer.