Lung Cancer Essay

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17 October 2015

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Lung Cancer



            Lung cancer was acknowledged as a distinct disease in 1761. Lung cancer, also known as carcinoma of the lung or pulmonary carcinoma, is the uncontrolled growth of unusual cells that starts in one or both lungs, typically in the cells that line the air passages. The abnormal cells divide fast and form tumors. These tumors become larger and more frequent, therefore weakening the lung’s ability to provide the bloodstream with oxygen. There are two forms of tumors: benign and malignant tumors. Benign tumors are those that remain in one place and do not seem to spread. Malignant tumors are more dangerous. They spread to other areas of the body, through the bloodstream or the lymphatic system. This process of spreading is referred to as metastasis.

            There are two main types of lung cancer: primary lung cancer and secondary lung cancer.(Johns, 1998). Primary lung cancer starts in the lungs while secondary lung cancer starts somewhere else in the body and metastasizes, and reaches the lungs. The two most renowned types of primary lung cancer are small-cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) and non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). Non-small cell lung carcinomas include squamous cell cancers (which are the most common type), adenocarcinoma and large-cell carcinoma. A squamous cell carcinoma grows gradually and might not spread to other parts of the body for some time. SCLC grows and spread gradually and by the time it is diagnosed, it may have spread to other parts of the body. About one in five cases of lung cancer are SCLC.

            Secondary lung cancer (metastatic lung cancer), is not as common as primary lung cancer. Secondary lung cancer is normally a cancer that has metastasized from a primary cancer, more likely from the large bowel, bladder, breast, testicle, stomach, gullet, kidney, and a skin cancer called malignant melanoma. A secondary lung cancer may be assumed to be from a diagnosed primary cancer. Occasionally, it may be found before a primary cancer referred to as “unknownprimary” that may not be possible to find. Secondary lung cancer may cause fluid to collect in the area between the two membranes (the pleural) that surrounds the lungs. This is known as pleural effusion. It is possible to extract the fluid and scrutinise it for cancer. You can tell that a cancer is secondary if the cells look like the cells from the primary cancer. For instance, if the primary cancer is kidney cancer, the cells will look like kidney cancer cells instead of lung cancer cells, (Bartlett,2001).

            There is an uncommon type of lung cancer known as the pleural mesothelioma. It occurs when mesothelioma develops in the pleural. Caused by constant exposure to asbestos, pleura are cells that are often referred to as lubricating cells which make a thin membrane in the host’s chest walls. They are malignant since they take long periods of time before they are discovered or the symptoms start to manifests itself. Pleuralmesothelioma can sometimes spread to the lymph nodes in the chest, above the collarboneor any other part of the body. However it has not been considered to be lethal or serious although in some cases it results to reduced effectiveness or functioning of the lungs.


            There are voluminous tests that are carried out to diagnose any symptoms or characteristic of lung cancer. These tests include molecular testing of the tumour and biopsy which involves direct removal of tissues or cells from a patient and examining it to determine the extent of infection. Other tests are; sputum cytology, focussing on the mucus of the lungs, thoracentesis, bronchospy, bone marrow aspiration, testing of the tumour, mediastinoscopy, imaging tests, thoracotomy, thoracoscopy, computerised tomography scan (CT), which scans using radiographic beams to create detailed computerised pictures, magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI), position emission tomography scan (PET) and a bone scan. Endoscopy is the process where a flexible plastic tube is inserted into the body cavities and organs so that one can view the area of concerned well.(Barbara,2009).


            Medical analysts and researchers have discovered many factors that they believe are the main causes of cancer according to their research. The most common and well known cause is smoking. Many cases involving lung cancer have been accompanied by symptoms like high levels of carcinogens in the lungs, which is one of the substance contained in cigarettes. It accounts for eighty to ninety percent of the cases. Passive smokers have a greater chance or risk of up to twenty to thirty percent in getting lung cancer. Marijuana also contains the deadly substance, carcinogens that are in tobacco. Smoking that substance contributes greatly in deteriorating functioning of the lungs.

            Another cause of lung cancer as far as smoke is concerned, is inhalation of the radon gas. It is a gas generated when radioactive materials are broken down by radium. The gas is a very fatal and very serious since it can be detected easily and it is odourless. An accumulated levels of the gas can actually cause lung cancer. Asbestos is another rare kind of cause of cancer. Long exposition to the rocks that release the asbestos, can cause inflammation and later trigger the enlargement of lung cancer. This was according to the medical researchers who reported that growth of lung cancer can be contributed by long duration to the exposure of these substances in the air.

            Families who have a history of lung cancer, that is, most of the members have been diagnosed with cancer, it is more likely that the next generation in the same family some of the members will have the same disease. This is known as genetic predisposition. It is inherited from family members hence it increases the chances of an individual to develop lung cancer when he or she is exposed to the same environmental factors or cultural experiences as other members of the family. Medical researchers have sorted to investigate the arrangement of inheritance of genetic defencelessness by ascertaining the familial combination. They evaluated them by analysing in order to determine if there is a statistical confirmation of the inheritance of the gene causing cancer. Once the gene has been located they pursue it to try and change it.

            It has been ascertained that different people experience different symptoms of lung cancer depending on the cause of it and the duration that the diseases is in the body.(Karen,2010).In the initial stages of the diseases, the symptoms are not noticeable or probably not alarming. It has been surveyed that about forty percent of the people who are diagnosed with cancer, most of them was realised at an advanced stage.

            The most common type symptom experienced by the many diagnosed in the early stages of the disease is persistent coughing.(Barbara,2009). The coughing may persistent to an extent of producing blood. The patient begins to have changes in breathing especially when doing a task that involves use of strength and straining coupled with constant pain in the chest or back. All these pain is caused by the enlargement of the lymph nodes and the lining of lubricating cells along the walls of the lungs.

            The patient will start breathing with a whistling sound being produced, a condition known as wheezing. The condition is as a result of the constricting airways in the lungs. It can be accompanied with hoarse voice, losing weight considerably, bronchitis or pneumonia in some cases. The patient will begin to have swellings on the face, fingers and also fatigue.


            According to medical researchers and practitioners, treatment of lung cancer highly depends on the extent of the damage of the lungs by the cancer cells, the site of the primary tumour, the stage and the person’s general health.(Mazzini,2010). Before treatment is done to a lung cancer patient, he or she is provided with options on the side effects or discomfort that they are likely to experience in any method of treatment offered. The different types of treatment offered or administered to patients include surgery by removing the tumour and the affected part of the lung. The other type of treatment is radiation therapy where the cancer cells are killed using x-rays with high energy. It can also prevent further growth of the cancer cells. Chemotherapy is the next treatment type, where the patient is given drugs which destroy the cancer cells in every part of the body.


Johns H.P. Williams T.T (1998). Lung Cancer And Its Treatment. Th Gerber publishers

Ettinger Y.G. Bartlett (2001). Guide to Cancer Treatment.. Oxford University Publishers

Mazzini J.Y and Walter Blue (2010). The Chicago Guide To Lung Cancer. Kaplan Publishers (1999)

Karen P.M and Jones Schoiller (2010). Questions And Answers About Cancer. Parles publishers.

Barbara M.D Daniel Otiz J.K. (2009) . Lung Cancer. American Cancer Sociation Publishers

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