Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the UK.  This is true in both men and women. It is also the most preventable types of cancer. Around 4 out of 5 cases of lung cancer are directly related to smoking.  Smoking became popular in the 1920s and many people smoked.  Twenty years later, the incidence of lung cancer soared. In the 1940s, women smoked in increasing numbers and twenty years later, the incidence of lung cancer increased in women.

There are several types of non-small cell lung cancer.  There is squamous cell lung cancer, making up about 30 percent of all lung cancer.  It is the easiest to detect early and is the most curable if found early enough.  It tends to spread relatively slowly and doesn’t metastize easily.

Adenocarcinoma is the most common kind of lung cancer, accounting for 40 percent of all cancers.  It occurs in former or current smokers.  It is the most common type of lung cancer found in non-smokers. It is more common in women and is more likely to spread to distant organs and lymph nodes.

Large cell carcinomas have large, abnormal cells that occur on the outskirts of the lungs.  They account for 10-15 percent of all non-small cell cases.  It has a high risk of metastasis to other organs or to lymph nodes.

Small cell cancers have a high mortality rate but can be cured with chemotherapy.  It is rarely treated with radiotherapy or surgery and is often found near the top of the lungs.

Doctors have an obligation to look for lung cancer if a patient presents with some of these symptoms:

  • Mass in the abdomen
  • Swollen lymph nodes above the scapula
  • Poor breathing
  • Abnormal breath sounds
  • Dull sound when tapping on the chest
  • Unequal pupils
  • Abnormal nails
  • Droopy eyelids
  • Weakness in an arm
  • Swollen veins in the neck, arms or chest
  • Swollen face

A few cases of lung cancer produce abnormally high levels of hormones or things like calcium.  If a blood test shows high calcium, think of the possibility of lung cancer and proceed with diagnostic evaluation. Sometimes metastatic disease is found before primary tumors so if they are found, do a chest x-ray to look for the primary tumor.

By the time there are symptoms, the tumor can usually be picked up on x-ray.  A CT scan can be confirmatory as it is a more detailed test for cancer of the lungs. A lung biopsy makes the type of cancer confirmed.  Biopsy can be a bronchoscopic biopsy if the cancer is near the bronchioles or bronchi; it can also be an open biopsy if the tumor is on the outside of the lungs.  Other tests check to see how far the cancer has spread.  Nearby lymph nodes are evaluated for cancer and CT scans of the body, PET scans, bone scans and MRI scans can be done of the brain to check for brain metastases. A mediastinoscopy can look  for lymph node involvement beneath the sternum.

Fluid can be present in the lining of the lung and this fluid can be checked for cancer cells via a needle biopsy.

Four types of surgical treatment are performed:  There is a wedge resection in which a triangle shaped slice of tissue is taken.  A lobectomy removes the whole lobe of a lung.  A pneumonectomy removes one whole lung and a sleeve resection removes only part of the bronchus.

Radiation uses high energy x-rays to kill cancer cells.  There is external radiation therapy and internal therapy, which uses radioactive substances in seeds, needles, wires or catheters that are placed near the cancer and can kill cancer cells locally.

Chemotherapy uses medications that kill rapidly growing cells, such as cancer cells.  The chemicals reach the cancer cells wherever they are in the body and kill them. For More Information Visit: Lung Cancer Medical Negligence Solicitor