One of the main types of cancer in the United States is lung cancer. Lung cancer refers to the growth of cancer cells in the tissues of the lungs. One of the main causes of this disease (in 85-90% of cases) is smoking, including secondhand smoke. However, there have been cases in which people who never smoked were diagnosed with this disease. Experts are not sure what causes cancer in these people. Smokers are 15 times more likely to get lung cancer than those who have never smoked.
Stages of lung cancer
The stages of lung cancer are determined according to its two types: small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. The first type has four stages, and the second, two.
Small Cell Lung Cancer
Lung cancer small cell grows and spreads rapidly, and in most cases are diagnosed in heavy smokers. This type is represented in:
- Stage 1: In this case, only the underlying tissues of the lungs are invaded by cancer cells.
- Stage 2: Here, the cancer spreads to the lymph nodes that surround the lung tissues. Cancer cells also invade the chest wall or nearby structures (such as the diaphragm, mediastinal pleura or parietal pericardium).
- Stage 3: This stage can be divided into 3A and 3B. In stage 3A, cancer takes over lymph nodes in the center of the chest. And in stage 3B the disease invades the lymph nodes on the opposite side of the chest or in the lower part of the neck, along with the heart, blood vessels, trachea and esophagus.
- Stage 4: Stage 4 is the final stage of cancer. Here the disease spreads to other parts of the body. In clinical terms, cancer has metastasized.
The symptoms that occur in lung cancer in stage 4 appear depending on the region where the cancer first started and / or due to the spread of the disease to other parts of the body. The most affected are the liver, bones and brain. The symptoms are as follows:
- As the affected organs are the lungs, the most important symptom is a persistent coughthat does not remit (even after 2-3 weeks). It is even more worrying if this type of chronic cough occurs in a smoker.
- Another symptom that increases the chances of a person suffering from lung cancer is coughing up sputum with blood. This symptom occurs in almost all cases of lung cancer.
- The affected person may experience a chest painthat does not remit, or shoulder pain . This symptom, however, does not occur in all cases.
- As cancer cells develop metastases, breathing becomes difficult. This symptom can also occur even before the cancer spreads outside the lungs.
- Frequent or persistent infectionssuch as bronchitis or pneumonia are also important indications of lung cancer.
Once the cancer has spread to the brain, it can trigger symptoms such as vision problems, paralysis of the facial region or weakness that can be felt on one side of the body, or seizures. The appearance of jaundice, together with the above symptoms may indicate that lung cancer has spread to the liver. And if it manages to reach the bones, then it can cause pain in the joints, spine of the region, thighs and ribs.
Stage 4 lung cancer can also cause some less common symptoms. These may include high fever, swelling of the face, digital hypocratism, wheezing and chronic hoarseness.
Fortunately, lung cancer is the most preventable. Although there is no foolproof method to prevent this disease, the best measure is not to smoke or quit smoking. Experts say that the moment one quits smoking completely, the lungs begin to recover. The risk of cancer is inversely proportional to the number of years without smoking. Taking into account that, if a person has not smoked for 10 years, their chances of developing lung cancer are cut to 50% compared to those of a smoker. Other methods that can also be used to reduce the risk of this disease are the diet rich in fruits and vegetables, especially antioxidants and regular exercise. It is also recommended to maintain control over high radiation levels in your home and the neighboring area,