Lung cancer is one of the most common and serious cancers.
Around 47,000 people are diagnosed with the condition each year in the UK.
There are usually no signs or symptoms in the early stages of lung cancer, but many people with the condition eventually develop symptoms, including:
– a persistent cough
– coughing up blood
– persistent shortness of breath
– unexplained tiredness and weight loss
– an ache or pain when breathing or coughing
If you have these symptoms, you should see a doctor.
Types of lung cancer
There are two main forms of primary lung cancer.
These are classified according to the type of cells in which the cancer begins to grow.
– Non-small cell lung cancer. The most common form, accounting for more than 87 percent of cases.
– It can be one of three types: squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma or large cell carcinoma.
– Small cell lung cancer – a less common form that usually spreads more quickly than non-small cell lung cancer.
– The type of lung cancer you have determines which treatments are recommended.
Who is affected
Lung cancer mainly affects older people. It is rare in people under 40 years of age.
More than four in ten people with lung cancer in the UK are aged 75 and over.
Although people who have never smoked can get lung cancer, smoking is the most common cause (accounting for about 72 percent of cases).
This is because smoking involves regularly inhaling a number of different toxins.
Treat lung cancer
Treatment depends on the type of mutation the cancer has, how far it has spread, and how good your general health is.
If the condition is diagnosed early and the cancer cells are confined to a small area, surgery to remove the affected part of the lung may be recommended.
If surgery is not suitable due to your general health, radiotherapy may be recommended instead to destroy the cancer cells.
If the cancer has spread too far for surgery or radiotherapy to be effective, chemotherapy is usually used.
There are also a number of medications known as targeted therapies.
They target a specific change in or around the cancer cells that helps them grow.
Targeted therapies cannot cure lung cancer, but they can slow its spread.
Source: health service