Lung cancer is the second most common cancer after skin cancer, and is the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women. Lung cancer mainly occurs in people who are 65 years or older.
What is Lung Cancer?
The lungs are a pair of organs that are used to breathe. Breathing in, oxygen is inhaled and delivered to the body’s cells to help power them. Exhaled breaths are composed of waste products in the form of carbon dioxide.
Lung cancer begins in lung tissue, and comes in two main types: non-small cell lung cancer, the most common type, and small cell lung cancer. As with other types of cancer, lung cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow out of control.
Diagram of the lungs. Image courtesy of Cancer Research UK.
Symptoms of Lung Cancer Include:
Shortness of breath
Cough that won’t go away
Coughing up blood
Weight loss without a known cause
Many of these symptoms can overlap with other illnesses or conditions. If you experience these symptoms, consult your physician to determine the cause.
Screening for Lung Cancer
Screening for lung cancer is performed before symptoms occur, as it is easier to treat abnormal tissue or tumors while they are still small and localized. By the time symptoms occur, a cancer has grown and spread into surrounding tissue.
Low-Dose Spiral CT Scan: A CT scanner moves in a spiral motion around the body while a low dose of radiation creates detailed images of the interior of the chest. Also known as a low-dose helical CT scan.
Chest X-Ray: X-rays, which are electromagnetic rays, are beamed into the chest to create images of the inside of the chest and organs.
Sputum Cytology: A sample of mucus coughed from lungs (sputum) is reviewed under a microscope to check for cancer cells.
In addition to these, your doctor may recommend a biopsy – a tissue sample which is taken and viewed under a microscope to check for cancer cells. Biopsies can take several forms.
Types of Lung Biopsies:
Needle Biopsy: A needle is guided through the chest and collects cells from lung tissue using X-ray or CT scan images as a guide.
Bronchoscopy: A doctor carefully guides a lighted tube through the throat and directly into the lungs to examine unusual areas.
Mediastinoscopy: Tissue samples are taken from lymph nodes behind the breastbone by making an incision into the base of the neck.
Biopsies may also be taken from other areas of the body where cancer has spread.
Risk Factors for Lung Cancer
Both smokers and non-smokers can develop lung cancer; however, smokers have a higher risk.
Risk Factors for Lung Cancer Include:
Family history of lung cancer
Exposure to secondhand smoke
Exposure to Radon gas
Exposure to carcinogens
Some risk factors cannot be changed, such as age or family history. Taking appropriate precautions may help reduce your risk factor for developing lung cancer.
Reducing Risks for Lung Cancer
If you don’t smoke, then don’t start
Avoid secondhand smoke
Have your home tested for Radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas
Treatment for Lung Cancer at Blue Ridge Radiation Oncology
Blue Ridge Radiation Oncology can treat many types of lung cancer. External beam radiation therapy is a highly accurate, non-invasive procedure that eliminates the need for surgery.
Types of External Beam Radiation Therapy for Lung Cancer:
Brachytherapy, a form of internal radiation therapy, may also be used to treat certain lung cancers.
Everyone is unique, and no two treatments are alike. The type of treatment chosen depends on several factors, such the size and location of a tumor, as well as the type. Our doctors will carefully consider your treatment options and design the best plan for you.
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Serving Anderson & Greenville SC, and Surrounding Areas
We welcome patients and family from all over the world, but mostly those living within a hundred-mile radius of Anderson and Greenville, South Carolina.
AnMed Health & Blue Ridge Radiation Oncology are charter members of Levine Cancer Institute's cancer care network. Carolinas HealthCare System's Levine Cancer Institute aims to build "a cancer institute without walls," by increasing access to specialist consultations, research offerings, program offerings and services to member institutions throughout the Carolinas.