lung cancer symptoms,causes,treatment,staging

Lung Cancer Symptoms,Causes,Diagnosis,Treatment

(Last Updated On: February 9, 2018)

What is Lung Cancer ?

Lung Cancer Definition : Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of unusual cells that begin in one or both lungs; normally in the cells that line the air passages.

The abnormal cells do not change into healthy lung tissue, they divide rapidly and form tumors.

Types of Lung Cancer

There 2 types of lung cancer, that grow and spread differently, are small cell lung cancers (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC).

The most common type is non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). NSCLC makes up about 80 to 85 % of all cases. Thirty percent of those begin in the cells that form the lining of the body’s cavities and surfaces. this type usually forms in the outer part of the lungs (adenocarcinomas). Another 30 % begins in cells that line the passages of the respiratory tract (squamous cell carcinoma).

A rare subset of adenocarcinoma begins in the small air sacs in the lungs (alveoli). It’s known as adenocarcinoma in situ (AIS). this type isn’t aggressive and will not invade surrounding tissue or need immediate treatment. large-cell carcinoma and large-cell neuroendocrine tumors are Faster-growing forms of NSCLC.

Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) represents about 15 to 20% of lung cancer. SCLC grows and spreads quicker than NSCLC. This also makes it more possible to respond to chemotherapy, however, it’s also less possible to be cured with treatment.

In some cases, lung cancer tumors contain both NSCLC and SCLC cells.

Mesothelioma is another type of lung cancer. It’s usually related to asbestos exposure. carcinoid tumors begin in hormone-producing (neuroendocrine) cells.

Tumors in the lungs will grow quite large before you notice symptoms. Early symptoms mimic a cold or other common conditions, thus most people don’t seek medical attention quickly. That’s one reason why lung cancer isn’t usually diagnosed at an early stage.

Lung Cancer Causes and Risk Factors

Smoking causes the majority of lung cancers — both in smokers and in individuals exposed to secondhand smoke. however, lung cancer also happens in people that never smoked and in people who never had prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke. In these cases, there is also no clear cause of lung cancer.


pictures of smokers lungs and normal lungs
pictures of smokers lungs and normal lungs

Your risk of lung cancer will increase with the number of cigarettes you smoke every day and also the number of years you have smoked. Quitting at any age will significantly lower your risk of developing lung cancer.

How smoking causes lung cancer ?

Doctors believe smoking causes lung cancer by damaging the cells that line the lungs. once you inhale cigarette smoke, that is packed with cancer-causing substances (carcinogens), changes in the lung tissue begin rapidly.

At first, your body is also ready to repair this injury. but, with each repeated exposure, normal cells that line with your lungs are more injured. Over time, the injury causes cells to act abnormally and finally, cancer could occur.

Passive smoking or Second-Hand Smoking

Passive smoking or the inhalation of tobacco smoke by nonsmokers or second hand smoking who share living or working quarters with smokers is also an established risk factor for the development of lung cancer. the study has told that nonsmokers who live with a smoker have a 24% increase in risk for developing lung cancer in comparison with nonsmokers who don’t live with a smoker.

Exposure to asbestos and other carcinogens

Workplace exposure to asbestos and other substances are known to cause cancer — like arsenic, chromium, and nickel — can also raise your risk of forming lung cancer, especially if you are a smoker.

Today, asbestos use is limited or illegal in several countries, together with the U.S. both lung cancer and mesothelioma (cancer of the pleura of the lung as well as of the lining of the abdominal cavity referred to as the peritoneum) are related to exposure to asbestos.

Exposure to radon gas

Radon is made by the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water that eventually becomes part of the air you breathe. Unsafe levels of radon will accumulate in any building, including homes.

Radon testing kits, which can be purchased at home improvement stores, will verify whether levels are safe. If unsafe levels are discovered, remedies are available.with an estimated 12% of lung-cancer deaths due to radon gas, or about 21,000 lung-cancer-related deaths annually in the U.S., making radon the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. after smoking. like asbestos exposure, concomitant smoking greatly will increase the risk of lung cancer with radon exposure.

Family history of lung cancer

People with a parent, sibling or child with lung cancer have a more risk of the lung cancer. which suggests that not only smoking but various factors, like individual genetic susceptibility, might play a role in the causing of lung cancer. several researchers have shown that lung cancer is more possible to happen in both smoking and nonsmoking families of those who have had lung cancer than in the overall population.

it’s unclear how much of this risk is due to shared environmental factors (like a smoking household) and how much is said about genetic risk.

people who inherit certain genes, like genes that interfere with DNA repair, is also a bigger risk for several types of cancer. Tests to spot people at increased genetic risk of lung cancer aren’t yet available for routine use.

Lung diseases

The presence of certain diseases of the lung, notably chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), is related to an increased risk (four- to six-fold the risk of a nonsmoker) for the development of lung cancer even once the results of concomitant cigarette smoking are excluded. pulmonary fibrosis (scarring of the lung) seems to extend the chance of seven-fold, and this risk doesn’t seem to be related to smoking.

Prior history of lung cancer

Survivors of lung cancer have a greater risk of forming a second lung cancer than the overall population has of forming a Lung cancer for the first time.

Survivors of non-small cell lung cancers have an Increased risk of 1%-2% per year for forming a second lung cancer. In survivors of small cell lung cancers, the chance for development of second lung cancers approaches 6% per year.

Air pollution

Air pollution from industry, vehicles and power plants will raise the risk of developing lung cancer in exposed people.

Up to 1%-2% of lung cancer deaths are due to breathing polluted air, and specialists believe that prolonged exposure to highly polluted air will carry a risk for the development of lung cancer similar to that of passive smoking.

Exposure to diesel exhaust

Exhaust from diesel engines is formed from gases and soot (particulate matter). several occupations, like truck drivers, toll booth workers, forklift and different heavy machinery operators, railroad and dock staff, miners, garage workers and mechanics, and a few farm workers are frequently exposed to diesel exhaust.

Studies of workers exposed to diesel exhaust have shown a small but vital increase in the risk of developing lung cancer.

Symptoms of Lung Cancer

Symptoms of non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer are basically the same.

Early signs and symptoms of lung cancer could include:


♦  Shortness of breath

♦  Wheezing

♦  Weakness and fatigue

loss of appetite and weight loss

lingering or worsening cough

coughing up phlegm or blood

chest pain that worsens when you breathe deeply, laugh, or a cough

You might also have recurrent respiratory infections like pneumonia or bronchitis.

As cancer spreads, extra symptoms rely on where new tumors form. for example, if in the:

♦ lymph nodes: lumps, particularly in the neck or collarbone

♦  bones: bone pain, particularly in the back, ribs, or hips

♦ brain or spine: a headache, dizziness, balance issues, or numbness in arms or legs

♦ liver: yellowing of skin and eyes (jaundice)

Tumors at the top of the lungs will have an effect on facial nerves, leading to drooping of 1 eyelid, small pupil, or lack of perspiration on one side of the face. Together, these symptoms are referred to as Horner syndrome. It also can cause shoulder pain.

Tumors will continue the large vein that transports blood between the head, arms, and heart. this will cause swelling of the face, neck, upper chest, and arms.

Lung cancer causes a large number of symptoms because it sometimes creates a substance like hormones, referred to as the paraneoplastic syndrome, that includes:

♦ muscle weakness

♦ nausea

♦ vomiting

♦ fluid retention

♦ high blood pressure

♦ high blood sugar

♦ confusion

♦ seizures

♦ coma

Also Read : Detailed Article On 7 Early Warning Signs And Symptoms Of Lung Cancer

How is Lung Cancer Diagnosed

After a physical examination, your doctor can tell you how to prepare for specific tests, such as:

Imaging tests: an abnormal mass is seen on X-ray. MRI, CT, and PET scans. These scans produce more detail and find smaller lesions.
sputum cytology: If you produce phlegm when you cough, microscopic examination will verify if cancer cells are present.

A biopsy will verify if tumor cells are cancerous. A tissue sample is obtained by:

Bronchoscopy: while under sedation, a lighted tube is passed down your throat and into your lungs, permitting closer examination.
Mediastinoscopy: The doctor makes an incision at the base of the neck. A lighted instrument is inserted and surgical tools are used to take samples from lymph nodes. It’s sometimes performed in a hospital under general anesthesia.
Needle: using imaging tests as a guide, a needle is inserted through the chest wall and into the suspicious lung tissue. the needle biopsy may be used to test lymph nodes.

Tissue samples are sent to a pathologist for analysis. If the result is positive for cancer, further testing, like a bone scan, will facilitate verify if cancer has spread and to help with staging.

For this test, you’ll be injected with a radioactive chemical. Abnormal areas of bone can then be highlighted on the pictures. MRI, CT, and PET scan are used for staging.

What are the Stages of lung cancer and life Expectancy

Staging lung cancer is based on whether the cancer is native or has spread from the lungs to the lymph nodes or different organs. because the lungs are massive, tumors will grow in them for a long time before they are found. Even when symptoms—such as coughing and fatigue—do occur, individuals assume they are because of other causes. For this reason, early-stage lung cancer (stages I and II) is difficult to find.

Stages of Non-Small Cell lung cancer

Stage I: The cancer is found only in the lungs and has not spread to any lymph nodes.

lung cancer life expectancy stage I – 5-year survival rate for stage 1A lung cancer is 49 percent and for 1B is 45 percent.

Stage II: The cancer is in the lung and near lymph nodes.

lung cancer life expectancy stage II – 5 -year survival rate with stage 2A lung cancer is 30 percent and for stage 2B lung cancer, 30 percent.

Stage III: Cancer is found in the lung and in the lymph nodes in the middle of the chest, also described as the locally advanced disease. Stage III has 2 subtypes:

lung cancer life expectancy stage III – survival rate for stage 3A lung cancer is 14 percent, stage 3B lung cancer is only 5 percent.

If cancer has reached only to lymph nodes on the same side of the chest where cancer began, it’s called stage IIIA.
If cancer has spread to the lymph nodes on the opposite side of the chest, or above the collarbone, it is referred to as stage IIIB.

Stage IV: this is the most advanced stage of lung cancer, and is also represented as advanced disease. this is when cancer has spread to each lung, to fluid in the area around the lungs, or to a different part of the body, like the liver or other organs.

 life expectancy stage IV – 5-year survival rate with stage 4 lung cancer is sadly only 1 percent to 2 percent.

Stages of Small Cell lung cancer

Limited stage: during this stage, cancer is found on one side of the chest, involving only 1 part of the lung and near lymph nodes.

Extensive stage: during this stage, cancer has spread to different regions of the chest or other parts of the body.

Lung cancer life expectancy for both small cell lung cancer stages are 6% (5-year survival rate)

The American Joint Commission on Cancer enforced a more detailed staging system during which the stages of small cell lung cancer are described using Roman numerals and letters (for example, Stage IIA). this is often the same technique that is used for non-small cell lung cancer in describing the growth and spread of cancer.

Lung Cancer Treatment

Your doctors will set up your lung cancer treatment based on what you need. it’ll rely in part on :

♦ What kind of the disease you have

♦ It’s stage

♦ whether cancer has spread to your body

♦ The side effects the treatment might cause

♦ Your age and general health

♦ Your preferences and goals

Ask your doctor to explain the suggested treatment plan, as well as its advantages, side effects, and how it would make you feel throughout and after it.


This is an option when cancer hasn’t spread too far in your body. It’s usually the best way to treat non-small-cell lung cancer.

Your doctor will remove the part of the lung that has the tumor and the tissue around it. or you may need to possess your entire lung removed. you might also need radiation or chemotherapy after surgery.

After the operation, you may need to keep in the hospital for a couple of weeks to heal before you go home to recover. However, minimally invasive procedures are being used more and more often. If you choose for one of those, you will get a little incision in the chest. Your surgeon can use a thoracoscope, a flexible tube that’s used to examine the chest and find rid of tissue.

If you have small-cell lung cancer, it would not be possible to remove it in an operation.

Radiofrequency Ablation

If you have non-small cell lung cancer and can’t have surgery, this treatment may be an option.

Your doctor guides a skinny needle through your skin till it touches the tumor inside your lung. Then an electrical current passes through it to heat and kill the cancer cells.

Doctors use a machine to point high-energy X-rays at a tumor to destroy it. It works for each non-small-cell and small-cell lung cancers.

You get radiation treatments a few days at a time over many weeks. you may get it before surgery to shrink a tumor to form it easier to remove, or after surgery to kill any cancer cells left behind. Some individuals get it together with chemotherapy.

It can even facilitate relieve some of the symptoms of lung cancer, like pain or bleeding.


These medicines kill cancer cells in the body. It’s an option for each type of lung cancer.

You might get chemo before or after surgery, combined with radiation therapy. Or it would be your main treatment if surgery won’t work for you.

Your doctor might impose one type of chemo drug or a combination of various ones. You’ll get them through an IV at a treatment center or hospital. you will need a few rounds of treatment over several weeks.

Other Treatments

Researchers are constantly looking for better ways to treat lung cancer and facilitate people feel better and live longer. Scientists are finding out new combinations of chemotherapy, new forms of radiation, and medicines that build cancer cells more sensitive to radiation.

Targeted Drug Treatment

Drugs that focus on specific parts of cancer cells or tumors are known as targeted treatments. some of them seem to help control lung cancer that has spread. They include:

♦ Afatinib (Gilotrif)

♦ Alectinib (Alecensa)

♦ Bevacizumab (Avastin)

♦ Brigatinib (Alunbrig)

♦ Ceritinib (Zykadia)

♦ Crizotinib (Xalkori)

♦ Erlotinib (Tarceva)

♦ Gefitinib (Iressa)

♦ Necitumumab (Portrazza)

♦ Osimertinib (Tagrisso)

♦ Ramucirumab (Cyramza)

Life Expectancy Without Treatment

Doctors will help confirm which course of treatment would be best for you. Some individuals need to know, if you do nothing, what proportion time would you have left? Or, if you were to do the treatments, how much longer would it get you?

Most studies show that selecting some type of treatment can give you more time. If caught early enough, lung cancer might even be absolutely curable. And, if diagnosed in a more advanced stage, you can be treatable and your survival rate of living up to a year might increase up to 40 %.

Left untreated, science researchers estimate that individuals with the most common type of lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, would possibly live an average of seven months. That estimate is based on all stages of lung cancer combined. If your cancer is at a more advanced stage, it stands to reason, that your survival time can be lessened.

Home remedies for lung cancer

Home remedies and medical care remedies won’t cure cancer. however certain home remedies could facilitate relieve some of the symptoms related to lung cancer and side effects of treatment.

Ask your doctor if you should take dietary supplements and if so, which ones. Some herbs, plant extracts, and other home remedies will interfere with treatment and endanger your health. be sure to debate all complementary therapies with your doctor to make sure they’re safe for you.

Options could include:

Massage: With a qualified therapist, massage will help relieve pain and anxiety. Some massage therapists are trained to work with people with cancer.
Acupuncture: when performed by a trained practitioner, treatment could help ease pain, nausea, and vomiting. however it’s not safe if you have low blood counts or take blood thinners.
Meditation: Relaxation and reflection will reduce stress and improve overall quality of life in cancer patients.
Hypnosis: Helps you relax and will help with nausea, pain, and anxiety.
Yoga: Combining breathing techniques, meditation, and stretching, yoga will help you feel better overall and improve sleep.

Some individuals with cancer turn to cannabis oil. It may be infused into cooking oil to squirt in your mouth or combine with food. Or the vapors can be inhaled . this could relieve nausea and vomiting and improve appetite. Human studies are lacking and laws for use of cannabis oil vary from state to state.

Diet for People With Lung Cancer

There’s no diet specifically for lung cancer. it’s vital to get all the nutrients your body wants. If you’re deficient in certain vitamins or minerals, your doctor will advise you which foods will provide them. Otherwise, you’ll need a dietary supplement. however, don’t take supplements without talking to your doctor because some will interfere with treatment.

Here are some dietary tips:

♦ Eat whenever you have an appetite.

♦ If you don’t have a major appetite, try eating smaller meals throughout the day.

♦ If you wish to gain weight, supplement with low sugar, high-calorie foods, and drinks.

♦ Use mint and ginger teas to soothe your digestive system.

♦ If your stomach is easily upset otherwise you have mouth sores, avoid spices and stick to bland food.

♦ If constipation is a problem, add more high-fiber foods.

As you progress through treatment, your tolerance to certain foods might change. therefore can your side effects and nutritional needs. It’s worth discussing nutrition together with your doctor often. you can also ask for a referral to a nutritionist or dietician.

There’s no diet known to cure cancer, however, a well-balanced diet will help you fight side effects and feel better.


Reference :

American Cancer Society


American Lung Association

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2 Replies to “Lung Cancer Symptoms,Causes,Diagnosis,Treatment”

  1. alice ave

    I was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis 2015. I was put on high doses of prednisone in 2016. In December 2017 I was hospitalized for 14 days with pneumonia. I was on oxygen 24/7 and the bottom lobes of my lungs are destroyed! I lost hope because my doctor said he have no idea how long I have to live but Glory be to Almighty for leading to Best Health Herbal Centre. I purchased pulmonary fibrosis herbal remedy from Best Health Herbal Centre, the herbal remedy slowed the progression within 5 weeks of usage, 80-85% success rate!

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  2. Arianne

    Thanks, it’s very informative

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