Lung Cancer Awareness Month (November 1st to November 30th)
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide and is primarily of two types namely non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC) Each type has multiple stages which are delineated based on the location of the tumor. Generally, lung cancer is diagnosed in the later stages mostly owing to the large surface area of lungs which gives enough time for the tumor to grow before they are ever diagnosed.
Non-small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)
This is the most common type prevalent in 85% patients detected with lung cancer and has three different subtypes as they originate from three different types of lung cells namely adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and large cell carcinoma. Each of the types has different stages through which a person goes through and the stage at which the disease is diagnosed determines the individual’s survival hopes.
Stage 1: The cancer is present only in the lungs without spreading to the lymph nodes.
Stage 2: At this stage, the cancer is present in the lungs and the nearby lymph nodes.
Stage 3: The cancer progresses from the nearby lymph nodes to the lymph nodes present in the middle of the chest apart from being located in the lungs. Termed as ‘locally advanced disease’ at this stage, it is further split into two different subtypes.
Stage 3A: Here, the cancer spreads to lymph nodes on the same side of the chest where cancer started.
Stage 3B: Here, cancer spreads to lymph nodes on the opposite side of the chest where cancer initially originated.
Stage 4: This is the final stage of the disease also known as the advanced disease where cancer has spread to both lungs, the fluid surrounding the lungs or even to other parts of the body.
Small Cell Lung Cancer
The remaining lung cancer cases belong to this type. Though they grow quicker than NSCLC tumor, they respond more faster too to chemotherapy compared to NSCLC. There are two stages here:
Limited stage: Cancer is present on one side of the chest, specifically contained in one part of the lungs and its nearby lymph nodes.
Extensive stage: At this stage, cancer has spread to other regions of the chest or even to other parts of the body.
Most symptoms of lung cancer are mistaken for bronchitis or pneumonia which accounts for more than 70% of lung cancer cases to be in advanced stage when they are diagnosed. Earlier the diagnosis stage, better the chances of successful treatment. Smoking is the main cause of lung cancer and it is advisable that smokers get themselves screened for the disease every year to ensure early diagnosis (if the disease is present). November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and you can find A-Z information on lung cancer by visiting the website www.firsteatright.com.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.