Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in one or both lungs. These abnormal cells do not carry out the functions of normal lung cells and do not develop into healthy lung tissue. As they grow, the abnormal cells can form tumors and interfere with the functioning of the lung, which provides oxygen to the body via the blood.
The two main types are small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. These types are diagnosed based on how the cells look under a microscope. Non-small cell lung cancers include squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma and large cell carcinoma.
Lung cancer typically doesn’t cause signs and symptoms in its earliest stages. Signs and symptoms of lung cancer typically occur only when the disease is advanced.
Signs and symptoms of lung cancer may include:
- A new cough that doesn’t go away
- Coughing up blood, even a small amount
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Losing weight without trying
- Bone pain
The treatment options are:
- Surgery with removal of the entire or part of the lobe in which the tumor is located, is the primary treatment for patients with early-stage cancer who are in good general health. The goal of surgery is to totally eliminate all the tumor cells and thereby provide a cure. Unfortunately, lung cancers tend to develop in smokers more than 50 years of age, who very often have other lung disease or serious medical conditions that magnify the risk of surgery. The location and size of a lung tumor dictate how extensive the operation must be. Procedures to remove lung cancer include:
- Wedge resection to remove a small section of lung that contains the tumor along with a margin of healthy tissue
- Segmental resection to remove a larger portion of lung, but not an entire lobe
- Lobectomy to remove the entire lobe of one lung
- Pneumonectomy to remove an entire lung
- Radiation therapy, or radiotherapy, delivers high-energy x-rays that can destroy rapidly dividing cancer cells. It has many uses in lung cancer:
- As primary treatment
- Before surgery to shrink the tumor
- After surgery to eliminate any cancer cells that remain in the treated area
- To treat lung cancer that has spread to the brain or other areas of the body
- Chemotherapy which is most of the times applied in combination with another treatment modality
- Stereotactic body radiotherapy, also known as radiosurgery, is an intense radiation treatment that aims many beams of radiation from many angles at the cancer. Stereotactic body radiotherapy treatment is typically completed in one or a few treatments.
- Thermal and non-thermal ablation therapies
Pulmonary radiofrequency ablation (RFA) has become an increasingly adopted treatment option for primary and metastatic lung tumors. Pneumothorax represents the most frequent complication and lesion size represents the most important risk factor for local recurrence.
RFA can be used as a treatment modality for primary and metastatic lung tumors.
- NIH, National Cancer Institute USA
- Mayo Clinic USA
- Bargellini I, Bozzi E, Cioni R, Parentini B, Bartolozzi C. Radiofrequency ablation of lung tumours. Insights into Imaging. 2011