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LUNG CANCER – FAQs

  1. What is Lung Cancer?

A1: Lung cancer, also known as lung carcinoma, is a malignant lung tumor characterized by uncontrolled cell growth in tissues of the lung. This growth can spread beyond the lung by the process of metastasis into nearby tissue or other parts of the body.

A2: Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths in both men and women in the U.S. and worldwide.

A3: Normally, the body maintains a system of checks and balances on cell growth so that cells divide to produce new cells only when new cells are needed. Disruption of this system of checks and balances on cell growth results in an uncontrolled division and proliferation of cells that eventually forms a mass known as a “tumor”.

  1. What are the early signs of lung cancer?

A: The most common “symptoms” of lung cancer are:

  • A cough that does not go away or gets worse.
  • Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum (spit or phlegm)
  • Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing.
  • Hoarseness.
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite.
  • Shortness of breath.
  1. How long do you live after being diagnosed with lung cancer?

A: The terms 1 year survival and 5 year survival don’t mean that you will only live for 1 or 5 years. They relate to the number of people who are still alive 1 year or 5 years after their diagnosis of cancer. Some people live much longer than 5 years. Statistics are averages based on large numbers of patients.

  1. What are the types of lung cancer?

A:

  • Non-small cell lung cancer is the *most common type of lung cancer. About 85% of lung cancers are non-small cell lung cancers.
    • Squamous cell carcinoma,
    • adenocarcinoma, and
    • large cell carcinoma are all subtypes of non-small cell lung cancer.
  • Small cell lung cancer
  • Lung carcinoid tumor
  1. What happens to you when you have lung cancer?

A: Lung cancer happens when cells in the lung change (mutate). They grow uncontrollably and cluster together to form a tumor. Lung cells most often change because they are exposed to dangerous chemicals that we breathe. *There are two main types of lung cancer, small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.

  1. What are the final stages of lung cancer?

A:

  • Overview.
  • Delirium.
  • Fatigue.
  • Dyspnea.
  • Pain.
  • Cough.
  • Constipation.
  • Dysphagia.
  1. Where does lung cancer spread to first?

A: Lung cancer can spread to nearly any region of the body, but the most common areas are the lymph nodes, liver, bones, brain, and adrenal glands. *Most lung cancers first spread to lymph nodes in the chest near the tumor.

  1. What are the signs of lung cancer progression?

A: Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Signs and Symptoms

  • A cough that does not go away or gets worse.
  • Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum (spit or phlegm)
  • Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing.
  • Hoarseness.
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Feeling tired or weak.
  1. How long does it take for a lung cancer tumor to grow?

A: That is the smallest size likely to be seen on an X-ray. It takes about 3 to 6 months for most lung cancers to double their size. Therefore, it could take several years for a typical lung cancer to reach a size at which it could be diagnosed on a chest X-ray.

  1. Can lung cancer be cured if detected early?

A: Lung cancer can be treatable and even curable — if it is caught early. “Regular CT scans promote early detection, which can allow you to get a very minimal surgery and be cured.” “If you wait, you’re talking about a major surgery and much worse outcomes.”

  1. How long does a person have to live with Stage 4 lung cancer?

A: The five-year survival rate—that is, the percent of people who are expected to be alive five years after a diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer—is sadly only 4 percent. While these numbers sound low, there are many people who are long-term survivors of stage 4 lung cancer.

  1. What are the odds of beating lung cancer?

A: The five-year survival rate for lung cancer is 55 percent for cases detected when the disease is still localized (within the lungs). However, only 16 percent of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at an early stage. For distant tumors (spread to other organs) the five-year survival rate is only 4 percent.

  1. Is there a cure for stage 1 lung cancer?

A: Can Early Stage Lung Cancer Be Cured With Surgery? …  When surgery is done at any early stage, has not spread to lymph nodes or blood vessels, doctors may sometimes use the word cure. Surgery may be performed for those with stage 1, stage 2 and stage 3A non-small cell lung cancer.

  1. What is the life expectancy of someone with small cell lung cancer?

A: Without treatment, the average life expectancy with extensive disease is 2 to 4 months, and with treatment is 6 to 12 months.

Since small cell lung cancer is rapidly growing, and we have come a long way with other fast-growing cancers such as leukemia, it is hoped that better treatments will be found in the future.

  1. What is the most aggressive form of lung cancer?

A: Almost all cases of SCLC are due to cigarette smoking. SCLC is very rare in people who have never smoked. SCLC is the most aggressive form of lung cancer. It usually starts in the breathing tubes (bronchi) in the center of the chest.

  1. Can you live if you have lung cancer?

A: When NSCLC has spread outside of the lungs, it can be difficult to treat.

The 5-year survival rate for stage IV NSCLC is around 1%. Each year, tens of thousands of people are cured of NSCLC in the world.

And, some patients with advanced lung cancer can live many years after diagnosis.

  1. Is lung cancer life threatening?

A: Since lung cancer tends to spread or metastasize very early after it forms, it is a very life-threatening cancer and one of the most difficult cancers to treat. …

  1. What is the most effective treatment for lung cancer?

A: Adjuvant therapy may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy.

*It is intended to get rid of any lung cancer cells that may still be in the body after surgery.

  1. Can you feel lung cancer?

A: If you go to your doctor when you first notice symptoms, your cancer might be diagnosed at an earlier stage, when treatment is more likely to be effective.

*The most common symptoms of lung cancer are: A cough that does not go away or gets worse. … Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing.

  1. What age is lung cancer most common?

A: Lung cancer mainly occurs in older people. Most people diagnosed with lung cancer are 65 or older, while a very small number of people diagnosed younger than 45.

**The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 70.

  1. How long do you live after being diagnosed with lung cancer?

A: Statistics on the outlook for a certain type and stage of cancer are often given as 5-year survival rates, but many people live longer – often much longer – than 5 years. The 5-year survival rate is the percentage of people who live at least 5 years after being diagnosed with cancer. Early stages – <55% whereas in the advanced stages <5-8%.

  1. Can a person live with only one lung?

A: Living with one lung doesn’t usually affect everyday tasks or life expectancy, though a person with one lung wouldn’t be able to exercise as strenuously as a healthy person with two lungs.

  1. Can you survive stage 2 lung cancer?

A: The overall survival rate, that is the percent of people who are expected to be alive 5 years after a diagnosis of stage 2 lung cancer is approximately 30 percent.

*For individuals with large tumors that have not yet spread to any lymph nodes, the survival rate may be somewhat higher.

  1. Where does small cell lung cancer spread to first?

A: Small cell lung cancers are very aggressive. They grow quickly and spread via the bloodstream to the liver, lung, bones and brain.

*It is quite common for tumour deposits to be found in these organs at the time of diagnosis..

  1. Is it hard to check for lung cancer?

A: 3 / 4 of lung cancers are diagnosed after they’ve already spread. … Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCL) is the most common type of lung cancer, yet it’s difficult to detect early on because early-stage lung cancer often has no symptoms and is not detected with a chest X-ray.

  1. What does a lung cancer look like?

A: If you have any symptoms of lung cancer, your doctor may order a chest X-ray. A chest X-ray of someone with lung cancer may show a visible mass or nodule. This mass will look like a white spot on your lungs, while the lung itself will appear black.

  1. Can you be completely cured of cancer?

A: If the cancer goes away after treatment and there is no longer any sign of it, this is called a complete remission. It is not the same as a cure, because there may still be cancer cells in the body that the doctors can’t see. … Partial remission is not a cure, because the cancer is still there.

  1. Can you survive cancer?

A: The five-year survival rate for people diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer that has spread (metastasized) to other areas of the body is 5 percent.

*Overall survival rates don’t specify whether cancer survivors are still undergoing treatment at five years or if they’ve become cancer-free (achieved remission).

  1. Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment?

A: Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, targeted treatments and immunotherapy—alone or in combination—are used to treat lung cancer. Each of these types of treatments may cause different side effects.

  1. How many  basic ways to treat NSCLC?
  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Immunotherapy
  1. Surgery for lung cancer?

A: In a thoracotomy, the surgeon opens up the chest cavity to gain access to the lungs. An incision is made in the side of the chest, and the ribs are spread apart, allowing the surgeon to remove cancerous tissue from the lungs.

  1. Video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS)?

A: VATS is a minimally invasive technology used to perform a lobectomy or wedge resection without opening the chest. This minimal invasive procedure involves inserting a long, thin tube with an attached camera (thoracoscope) and small surgical instruments into the chest.

  1. Robotic-assisted thoracic surgery?

A:  Robotic surgery is another minimally invasive approach to treating lung cancer. The instruments have greater ranges of motion, allowing for more delicate dissection. The recovery time and pain levels are similar to those resulting from VATS.

  1. Cancer Treatment Centers of surgeons perform four types of surgery to treat lung cancer:

A:

  • Wedge resection: This procedure is used to remove cancerous tissue from the lung, typically in diagnosing or treating metastasis.
  • Segmentectomy: This surgery is designed to remove cancerous tissue from a lung segment when a lobectomy cannot be performed. The lungs have various numbers of segments: three in the right upper lobe, two in the right middle lobe, five in the right lower lobe, four in the left lower lobe and four in the left upper lobe.
  • Lobectomy: In this procedure, an entire lobe is removed from the lung. The right lung has three lobes, and the left lung has two.
  • Pneumonectomy: This is the removal of an entire lung.
  1. What is lobectomy in lung surgery?

A: There are 2 lobes in the left lung and 3 in the right lung. Lobectomy means removing one lobe of the lung. Your surgeon will recommend this type of operation if the cancer is just in one part of one lung. It is the most common type of operation for lung cancer.

  1. How long can you take “chemo” for lung cancer?

A: Doctors give chemo in cycles, with a period of treatment (usually 1 to 3 days) followed by a rest period to allow the body time to recover.

Some chemo drugs, though, are given every day. Chemo cycles generally last about 3 to 4 weeks.

For advanced cancers, the initial chemo combination is often given for 4 to 6 cycles.

  1. How long does it take to have lung surgery?

A: After the surgery on your lung, your surgeon will close the ribs, muscles, and skin with sutures. Open lung surgery may take from 2 to 6 hours.

  1. Surgery for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer?

A: Surgery to remove the cancer (often along with other treatments) may be an option for early stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

If surgery can be done, it provides the best chance to cure NSCLC.

Lung cancer surgery is a complex operation that can have serious consequences, so it should be done by a surgeon who has a lot of experience operating on lung cancers.

  1. What is “the major risk factor” for lung cancer?

A: Cigarette smoking is the principal risk factor for development of lung cancer.

  1. Can “passive smoking” cause lung cancer?

A: Passive exposure to tobacco smoke (passive smoking) also can cause lung cancer.

Passive smoking at home and cancer risk: a population-based prospective study in Japanese nonsmoking women (Cancer Causes & Control, Nov 2001, 12 (9), pp 797–802); The subjects were 9675 Japanese lifelong nonsmoking women aged over 40 years who lived in three municipalities of Miyagi Prefecture, and completed a self-administration questionnaire in 1984. During 9 years of follow-up, 426 cancers were identified by record linkage to the population-based cancer registry.

  1. TNM Classification for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer?

A: The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) tumor/node/metastasis (TNM) classification is done.

The stage of a cancer tells you how big it is and whether it has spread. Knowing the stage helps your doctor decide which treatment you need.

Your scans and tests will give some information about the stage of your cancer. But your doctor might not be able to tell you the exact stage until after you have surgery.

The TNM staging system is the most common way for doctors to stage non small cell lung cancer. And it is sometimes used for small cell lung cancer.

TNM stands for Tumour, Node, Metastasis.

Doctors use the TNM system to create a number staging system: with stages 1 to 4.

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