Lung Cancer Guide and Introduction to Lung Cancer

Our body is made up of millions of cells and these cells have different shape, structure and function depending on the organs. A cell is the functional unit of the body. These cells combine and form tissues and tissues combine and form organs.

The cells have a life span after which they die and new cells are born and replace the dead cells and thus maintaining the bodily functions in a coordinated manner.

This process of wear and tear goes out throughout the life and occurs in a systematic way. When an injury occurs the cells die out and new cells are born and they take their place and this how the reparative process goes on.

This was a brief background of how our body works. The cells can also behave in pretty strange ways. They can start replicating at a pretty high pace and form a mass in an organ, which we call a tumor. There are two basic types of tumor, one is benign and the other is malignant. In cancerous conditions the abnormal cells start to grow either at a slow or a pretty fast pace and then they start invading the surrounding tissues and grow in size.

The two types of cancer behave entirely differently. The benign cancers just go through the replication of cells and as a trait they do not spread out to any other organ structures, but become confined to where they are. Whereas the malignant cells have the characteristic where they invade the surrounding tissues and grow at a very high speed, and then as one of their characteristics, they spread from one organ to another through blood stream, lymphatic system or either as a direct spread.
The process with which they transfer from one organ system to the other is known as metastasis and this is how cancer spreads from the original (primary) tumour to form new (secondary) tumours in other parts of the body.

Benign tumors are not life threatening and are successfully treated in almost all cases, whereas the metastatic tumors are not only life threatening but have a prolonged clinical course during which they are being treated with chemotherapy, radiotherapy, as well as surgery depending upon the choices made at that point in time by studying the case in detail and seeing the health of patient as to whether he or she will be able to bear the treatment depending on their health at that specific point.

Lung Cancer

Anatomy of the respiratory system consists of:

  • Trachea.
  • Right and left bronchus.
  • Branching out of bronchus into bronchioles.
  • Alveoli.

Etiology Of Lung Cancer

  • Smoking.
  • Genetic cause.
  • Arsenic.
  • Radiation exposure.
  • Environmental carcinogens.

Smoking - Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer nowadays. It is of great importance to understand as to how smoking leads to cancer in the lungs. The basic thing that smoking does is that it damages the normal lining of the lung, it damages the cilia whose function is to clear the lung secretions (mucus) and the particles that are lined up on the surface of the respiratory structures by moving them up so they are not accumulated inside the lung and cause lung infections and the damage to cilia causes impairment of the movement of the secretions out from the lung and thus result in obstructive changes and infections.

Smoking damages this clearance mechanism of the lungs and the cilia are lost and the mucus lining thickens to protect the underlying lung tissue from injury. Loss of cilia is an irreversible damage and cannot be reverted back, and once this damage has occurred, the lung can no longer keep itself uncontaminated.

When the cilia are lost, and the protective mechanism of clearance is hampered, then the cancer causing substances find a seat on the airway lining of the lung and thus gets absorbed from there into the cells of the lungs and starts to produce it effects by changing the normal physiology of the cells into abnormal ones.

This process then ultimately leads to further abnormal changes in the cells and thus causing the beginning of a vicious cycle where the tumor starts to grow.

Most of the lung cancers start in the lining of the bronchi, though some cancers also begin in the trachea, bronchioles, or alveoli.
The time span that lung cancer takes to develop is over a period of years. In the beginning there are precancerous lesions that often go undiagnosed because of them not forming a mass that could be detectable on the scans that are performed to investigate for any lung masses, and so it just sneaks under the eyes though it is there and keeps on going through changes until they finally evolve out as a tumor mass and then being diagnosed through the investigative processes.
These precancerous lesions not being identified on the scans just act as an undermining process where it is growing but not yet being acknowledged, which sometimes results in its appearing as a full blown disease process, which is then visible on the x-rays and other scans.
Though with recent developments and advancements it has become possible now to find these precancerous lesions through a battery of analysis that can be performed of the cell linings of the airways. Molecular abnormalities considered to be pre-cancerous have also been recognized in cells from people who are at high risk of developing lung cancer. These pre-cancerous changes usually progress to true cancer.

Arsenic - Inhalation of high concentrations of arsenic compounds produces irritation of the respiratory mucosa. Smelter workers experiencing prolonged exposures to high concentrations of airborne arsenic at levels rarely found today had inflammatory and erosive lesions of the respiratory mucosa, including nasal septum perforation. Lung cancer has been associated with chronic arsenic exposure in smelter workers and pesticide workers.

Radiation exposure – You cannot see, smell or taste radon gas, but it may be something that exists in your home. Radon makes its way to the human body through inhalation and whenever a person breathes in air containing radon it increases the risks of lung cancer. In 2003, The National Academy of Sciences and the Environment Protection Agency estimated that in the U.S., radon in homes causes 21,100 lung cancer deaths each year. A higher radiation dose from radon is received at home than from all other natural or man-made sources combined.

Radon is a proven and very potent "Class A" carcinogen. Safety limits on toxins or carcinogens in food or water are set at levels thousand times less lethal than what is the risk from radon in an average American home. "Radon in homes causes more deaths than fires, drownings and airplane crashes combined."

Environmental Carcinogens – Many of the environmental carcinogens are listed as follows: Acetaldehyde 2-Acetylaminofluorene Acrylamide, Benzene, Benzidine, Carbon tetrachloride, Chlordane, Coke oven emissions, Coal tar pitch volatiles, DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), Diesel exhaust, Environmental tobacco smoke, Formaldehyde, Gasoline, Heptachlor, Hexachlorobutadiene, Methyl chloride, Methylhydrazine, Silica, Uranium, Welding fumes, total particulates, Wood dust.

Why Lung Cancer Is Deadlier Than Rest?

The characteristic of lung cancer to grow silently and not showing any symptoms is the most lethal of its characteristics. Individuals who have lung tumors often do not develop symptoms until the cancer expose itself in an advanced stage where very less can be done to prevent the lethal damage that it is to cause. This time span is calculated from the first cell being cancerous to the point where there is a mass and that is detectable through the scans or other investigative techniques. Sometimes the lung cancer symptoms take a time span of about 10 to 40 years.

Lung cancers have a very poor prognosis and they are diagnosed at a comparatively late stage. It is very sad to say that only about 10 percent of individuals who are eventually cured from this disease. The doctors predict that if the person who has had surgery but has not had benefited from that then there is about a 50% chance that death will take place in less than a year.


Become a regular visitor at our "Health Care Blog" - Here are the latest blog entries:


Home © All rights reserved.

Health Care BLOG || Your Feedback & Suggestions || Health Directory


Disclaimer: is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional medical services. Any medical or other decisions should be made in consultation with your qualified health care provider. We will not be liable for any complications, injuries or other medical accidents arising from or in connection with the use of or reliance upon any information on this web site.