Lung Cancer Treatment
What You Need to Know
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC) are the two main types of lung cancer. The NSCLC cancer makes up 90% of lung cancers and includes adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and large cell carcinoma.
Additionally, mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer caused by exposure to asbestos fibers and affects the lining of the lungs and abdomen. Lung cancer is one of the most preventable, though most deadly, cancers in men and women around the world.
- Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer
Early signs of lung cancer of any type can include:
- A change in color or volume of sputum (saliva and mucus)
- Changes in the voice
- Coughing, especially if it persists or increases in intensity
- Coughing up blood
- Loss of appetite
- Onset of wheezing
- Pain in the chest, shoulder or back, unrelated to coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Unexplained weight loss
If the lung cancer has spread, a person may feel symptoms in other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes, brain, liver, bones and adrenal glands.
- Diagnosing Lung Cancer
Screenings are recommended if you don’t have lung cancer symptoms but are at high risk of developing the disease because of smoking history or age. Types of screenings include:
Low-Dose Computed Tomography (CT)
This scan is also called a low-dose CT scan, or LDCT. A CT machine scans the body and uses low doses of radiation to view the lungs. Studies have shown that only LDCT scans lower the risk of death from lung cancer by identifying it earlier.
In sputum cytology, a sample of phlegm is examined under a microscope for the presence of cancer cells.
- Talking to Your Doctor
Your doctor may refer you to a pulmonologist, thoracic surgeon or oncologist for lung cancer treatment. Physician assistants (PAs), nurse practitioners (NPs), nurses, nutrition specialists, social workers and other health and hospital professionals may be a part of your treatment plan.
Some questions you might ask a health professional include:
- Have the cancer cells been checked for gene changes that could affect my treatment options?
- What are the symptoms of mesothelioma lung cancer?
- What is the stage of my cancer, and what does that mean?
- What kind of lung cancer do I have?
- Where exactly is the cancer? Has it spread beyond where it started?
- Will I need any other tests before we can decide on treatment (if I am diagnosed with cancer)?
- Causes and Risk Factors for Lung Cancer
Some causes of lung cancer are:
- Asbestos fibers (mesothelioma)
- Outdoor air pollution
- Radon gas
- Smoking, or inhalation of secondhand smoke
- Preventing Lung Cancer
To lower your chances of lung cancer:
- Don’t smoke
- Use proper ventilation of radon gas
- Wear protective equipment when working with asbestos
A lung cancer screening is a great first step toward preventing lung cancer. Ask your doctor about lung cancer screening if you:
- Are a current smoker, or quit within the last 15 years
- Are between the ages of 55 and 77
- Have a 30-year pack-year history (if you smoked one pack of cigarettes a day for the past 30 years)
Our lung navigator is here to help you schedule a lung cancer screening and can be reached at Call913-789-3269.
- Stages of Lung Cancer
Regardless of your lung cancer stage, you can rest assured that your cancer care team will identify and explain the stages of cancer to you and explore your treatment options to find the best fit.
- Treatment Options for Lung Cancer
Some NSCLC lung cancer treatment options can include:
- Targeted treatments
For people who have small cell lung cancer, treatment options may include:
- Radiation therapy