Lung cancer is in the large part caused by smoking. If you have been a smoker you are at increased risk of lung cancer. About 10 percent of lung cancer occurs in nonsmokers. This is related to a genetic mutation and is more common in Asians.
Symptoms of lung cancer may include:
Shortness of breath
Bringing up blood.
Many other symptoms can be caused by lung cancer if it has spread outside the lung.
The first step in making a diagnosis is getting a chest x Ray and CT scan of your chest. This is usually followed by a biopsy, either on bronchoscope or by putting a needle through the chest wall under local anaesthetic. The biopsy will tell your specialist what type of lung cancer you have. There are 2 main types of lung cancer, small cell and non small cell. The type of lung cancer that you have will have an impact on your treatment.
The next step is to stage your lung cancer. this is normally done through having a PET CT scan, which is a special type of scan which lights up most spots of cancer in the body, and will tell your doctor if there are any cancer spots outside your lung.
Non small cell lung cancer is the commonest type and has 4 stages. Stage 1 is lung cancer localised to one spot in the lungs whereas stage 4 lung cancer is advanced lung cancer that has spread outside the lungs.
Small cell lung cancer is staged as limited or extensive.
Treatment of lung cancer may involve surgery, chemotherapy and/ or targeted therapy, radiotherapy or a combination of these.
Early stage lung cancer is preferably treated surgically if possible. Radiation treatment can be used if surgery is contraindicated. Advanced lung cancer and most small cell lung cancer is treated with chemotherapy. Targeted therapy is a non chemotherapy option for patients with a specific type of non small cell lung cancer that have a specific mutation. Radiotherapy is sometimes used in combination. Radiotherapy is also used to treat specific symptoms such as bone pain.
Breathe Well offers urgent consultations for patients suspected to have lung cancer. The time for diagnosis and start of treatment is usually 2-3 weeks.