Metastatic Lung Cancer : Treatment, Symptoms

Metastatic Lung Cancer Treatment diagnosis symptoms prevention

Cancer can be defined as the uncontrolled growth of abnormal body cells that damage body tissues resulting in the disruption of normal functions of the cells. This growth is initially called a tumor and the site where it occurs for the first time is referred to as the primary site of cancer. Afterwards, some of the cancer cells break off from the primary site and spread to other parts of the body.

They need a transport system like blood or lymphatic system for their migration. The lymphatic system is a network of vessels to eliminate body toxins, unwanted and waste products. Mainly it carries the fluid lymph that contains white blood cells to complement the immune system. The property of cancer to reach other areas of the body and develop new cancer there is called metastasis.

What is Metastatic Lung Cancer?

Metastatic lung cancer is a potentially fatal and extremely severe case wherein the cancer cells from the primary site of the cancer transport to and invades the lung tissue.

The following type of cancers can result in causing metastatic lung cancer-

Ø  Prostate cancer

Ø  Kidney cancer

Ø  Sarcoma

Ø  Bladder cancer

Ø  Colon cancer

Ø  Breast cancer

Ø  Neuroblastoma

Ø  Wilms’ tumor

How does lung cancer develop?

For a Lung cancer to develop, the cancer cells from the primary site break down and enter the bloodstream or lymph system. The cancer cells attach to the vessels to get transported to another organ which is the lung in this case.

After reaching the lungs, cancer cells adapt themselves according to the location to grow and divide there. These cells are also capable of countering the immune system attacks, and this is what makes metastatic lung cancer different from primary cancer. Therefore, a person can have more than one type of cancer making the treatment even more complicated.

Lung cancer statistics worldwide speak of the death of 8.2 million people in 2012’- www.cancerresearchuk.org

Symptoms of Metastatic lung Cancer-

To know the answer to ‘how do you know if you have lung cancer’ you need to accept the fact that metastatic lung cancer does not show symptoms and this makes it more threatening. Even when it develops the symptoms, they are not easy to distinguish to establish the possibility of lung cancer as they are quite similar to the general health conditions

  • Abrupt weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Breath shortness
  • Chest pain
  • A persistent cough
  • Bloody phlegm or the blood in a cough
  • Wheezing

How is it Diagnosed?

A suspected metastatic lung cancer will need a physical examination in combination with other diagnostic tests to confirm its presence. These tests include-

  • CT SCAN- it gives in-depth cross-sectional images of the lung.
  • Chest X-Ray to visualize the details of the lung
  • Lung Needle Biopsy that involves the removal of lung tissue for a cellular level inspection.
  • Bronchoscopy helps the doctor see all parts of the respiratory system along with the lungs.

How is it treated?

Treatments of lung cancer include different methods with a goal to bring the abnormal growth of cells in control to obstruct the problematic symptoms.

These treatments rely on several different factors for their success-

Age, Medical history, Health condition, location & type of primary tumor, tumor size and the number of tumors.

The following treatments are available at your doctor’s disposal

  • Chemotherapy- It is a standard treatment for metastatic lung cancer. This aggressive drug treatment specifically targets cancerous cells and destroy them. It is used when the cancer has progressed to a higher level and has already reached other organs. This method is used prominently because the drug can reach out to any organ easily.

Otherwise, surgical removal can also be an option to remove the tumorous growth from the lung. This is preferred in someone whose primary tumor is already removed or when the cancer has only spread to the lung.

  • Laser Treatment- wherein the highly intense light destroys the tumor & cancerous cells.
  • Radiation Therapy employs the high-energy radiation to treat a tumor by killing off its cancer cells.
  • By Implanting stents or tubes to allow for the passage of air
  • Heat probes, an experimental method to terminate cancer cells in lungs. Alternatively, applying chemotherapy drugs to the affected area directly can also serve the purpose

How to prevent metastasis lung cancer?

No successful way is yet known for prevention of lung cancer. However, early detection of primary cancer and employing the best treatment method can increase the success rate of treating it entirely.

The treatment depends on the size, location and the advancement of primary cancer/tumor. Some cancers that have metastasized to the lungs can be treated with chemotherapy whereas, the lung cancer led by primary cancers in kidney, bladder, and colon are treatable only with surgery.

Conclusion

Although in most cases it cannot be cured, treatments can at least increase lung cancer life expectancy.

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