August 1st is the day when the world observes World Lung Cancer Day with an aim of taking part in the prevention of this fatal disease. People around the world with lung cancer celebrate the day with a profound belief that they will be cured one day.
There might be many ways to celebrate the day across the globe but the mission is the same – to provide and spread awareness to the people about lung cancer and educate them about the importance of screening themselves regularly for this disease. Regular screening is essential when someone in your house went through the disease. It might not be inherited but the symptoms can affect the whole family if not treated in a timely manner.
This is why the WHO- World Health Organization pressed more attention on the prevention of lung cancer as according to them, lung cancer is so prevalent in the nations that more people die from the disease compared to other fatal diseases like breast, liver, and colon cancers combined.
However, it is unclear who initiated celebrating World Cancer Day but we are sure that the aim was to provide awareness against lung cancer and encourage people to take notable steps in recovering from this chronic disease.
Essential knowledge to have this World Cancer day
Lungs work as a pair of spongy organs with air filters located on both sides of the chest enabling one to breathe. Failure of this organ can bring serious health complications and one can instantly feel the pain of death.
As it is one of the most common reasons for cancer deaths across the world, WHO says that 25% of deaths are caused only due to lung cancer.
On this World Lung Cancer Day, we have listed the types, symptoms, prevention, and treatment of lung cancer to have a better understanding.
Types of lung cancer
As said, lung cancer is a fatal disease, it is broadly classified into two types;
- Small cell lung cancer (SCLC)
- Non-small lung cancer (NSLC)
Small cell lung cancer – It is a type of lung cancer where the cancer malignant cells are formed in the lung tissues. SCLC normally occurs in individuals with smoking habits whereas the signs and symptoms of small cell lung cancer include shortness of breath and coughing. However, when people are affected by small cell lung cancer, the currently available treatment does not satisfy the need for healing.
Non-small lung cancer – It is one of the commonest types of lung cancer. In NSCLC, it starts producing abnormal cells inside the lungs which constantly increase at a rapid rate causing these cells to get out of control. These abnormal cells lie on the walls of the lungs blocking the airways which cause bronchioles, bronchi, and alveoli. NSCLC is further divided into three main parts;
- Squamous cell carcinomas
- Large cell carcinomas
Signs and symptoms of Lung cancer
Many times people with lung cancer do not experience the symptoms until the cancer is spread across the lungs. However, people with low immunity levels show early signs of lung cancer. At this early stage of lung cancer when someone visits a doctor, it might be diagnosed at an earlier stage and probably the disease has a high chance to get cured.
Lungs can show more of the other symptoms that might not relate to any cancer but still, you need to visit a doctor to identify the reason when any of these symptoms occur;
The common lung cancer symptoms include;
- A cough that gets worse with time and it gets hard to get rid of it
- Intensive chest pain that gets even worse when laughing, coughing, or deep breathing
- Rust-colored sputum or the blood build-up in the spit or phlegm.
- Unexplained weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- New onset of wheezing
- Feeling weak or tired all the time
- Infections like pneumonia or bronchitis often hit the body or don’t go away.
These symptoms can be experienced if the lung cancer limits itself to the lungs. In case, if cancer blows out to the other parts, symptoms may cause;
- Changes in the nervous system such as numbness in the arm and leg, weakness, headaches, balance problems, dizziness, or seizures. This translates to the fact that the cancer is reaching your brain.
- Pain in bones like you may feel continuous pain in your back and hips.
- Lymph node swelling happens when the immune system cells start collecting on the nose and on the collarbone.
- When cancer affects the liver, the eyes and skin start getting pale yellow like when someone experiences jaundice.
Required treatment of lung cancer?
Lung cancer treatment varies depending on the level and type of cancer and after determining how much it has spread in the body. People with the diagnosis of non-small cell lung cancer can be well-treated with chemotherapy, surgeries, targeted therapy, radiation therapy, and depending on the need, a combination of these treatments. Usually, non-small cell lung cancer is treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Surgery – When a patient is diagnosed with NSCLC and prescribed surgery, the doctors will operate and cut out the affected cancer tissues.
Radiation therapy – Radiation therapy is used to eliminate the cancer cells from the lungs or any other part of the body without making cuts. They are high-energy rays similar to X-rays.
Chemotherapy – With chemo, the patients are prescribed to take special medicines to eliminate or shrink the cancer cells. These medicines can be taken orally and can be injected directly into your veins. Depending on the condition of the patient, both oral and injectable medicines can be used.
Targeted Therapy – In targeted therapy, the drugs are used to block the growth of cancer cells from specific organs like the lungs or liver. The treatment would be started first by screening and testing the medicines that can be given through your veins. You need to go through a number of tests regularly to see if the targeted medicines are working for your level of cancer.
The world has seen many clinical deaths due to many reasons such as pandemics and a range of other fatal diseases. On this World Lung Cancer Day let’s join hands to spread awareness among everyone around us so we can help make a difference in our nation and internationally.