Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers, with fatality rates at 9.3% of all cancer-related deaths. In 2020 alone, Lung Cancer claimed about 1.8 million deaths worldwide. A cancer diagnosis of any kind is, no doubt, a shocking revelation, but a diagnosis does not always have to be terminal. Treatments are tailored to every individual’s prognosis and health, and consulting a lung cancer specialist in Delhi NCR might open more options for a patient.
Types of Lung Cancer
Most lung cancers affect the bronchi, the lower regions of the windpipe or are more enclosed like in the alveoli inside the lungs. A broad classification of lung cancer can be made into two types: Small Cell Lung Cancer(SCLC) and Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer(NSCLC).
- Small Cell Lung Cancer(SCLC): is a less common type of cancer affecting about 15% of lung cancer patients. SCLC grows rapidly and is more vigorous than NSCLC. Upon diagnosis, chemotherapy and/or radiation is/are the primary mode of treatment.
- Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer(NSCLC): is the more common type of the two and is further classified into three types, namely Adenocarcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, and Large Cell carcinoma, based on its origin.
Prognosis and Stages of Lung Cancer
Identifying the stage at which the cancer is diagnosed is a crucial step in treating the disease. A lung Cancer Specialist in Delhi NCR may help you understand the disease in detail and layout all the best treatments suitable. Identifying characteristics of cancer helps us identify the stage in which the cancer is. Upon identification, cancer could be
- Localized: cancer is within the lungs
- Regional: Cancer has spread out to other parts of the chest such as lymph nodes, glands, etc.
- Distant: cancer has now spread to other parts of the body
The stages of cancer are stated based on the characteristics as mentioned above:
- Stage 1: A tumor(malignant) is found within the lungs and is about 4cms or less in measurement. Since it’s within the lungs, it is localized, and survival rates are significantly higher at 70-92% post-treatment.
- Stage 2: Cancerous growth measures about 7cms and has spread to nearby tissues. The survival rate reduces to 53-60% for the next five years.
- Stage 3: In this stage, cancer spreads rapidly further away in the body. Lymph nodes and other areas of the lungs are now affected, and only one in every three people survive for five years or longer upon diagnosis with stage 3 cancer.
- Stage 4: It leads to the last stage of prognosis of the diagnosis, and the life expectancy drops down to a maximum of about 11 months from diagnosis. Cancer has metastasized(spread) to body parts like the brain or bones in this stage.
These stages are exclusive to the NSCLC type of lung cancer. The SLC type has the following categorization:
- Limited: It is a very recent stage of SLC-type lung cancer and is found on one side of the chest. It may spread to the lymph nodes on the same side, but with treatments like radiation therapy, cancer growth can be controlled.
Extensive stage: in this stage, cancer further spreads to both the lungs and might as well the lymph nodes. Chances of metastasis into the bone marrow are also possible. However, opting for treatments under the best oncologists in Delhi NCR can further help the individuals make the right decisions and with the paranoia of a terminal illness.
Treatments in Lung Cancer
Lungs are a very sensitive pair of organs to treat and may not respond to treatments easily. A comprehensive study of the patient’s stage and pre-existing health conditions are taken into account to design the most effective approach for treatment.
Chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery are the first line of treatment when dealing with any form of lung cancer.
- Chemotherapy: In this treatment, a specific dosage of drugs is introduced in the patient’s body to kill rapidly growing cells. It affects both cancer and normal cells; hence people undergoing chemotherapy witness a range of side effects such as fatigue, hair fall, discoloration, nausea, vomiting, and/ mouth sores.
These side effects are usually temporary and go away on their own as soon as the therapy is discontinued. Chemotherapy drugs may be directly injected into the vein or introduced using a catheter.
- Radiation therapy: This is a focused treatment which means that it is designed to have maximum effect on cancer cells while being minimally invasive to the surrounding cells. Radiation therapy is usually performed using a machine. In some cases, brachytherapy or internal radiation may also be performed, which places a radioactive tube directly near the tumor. The side effects of this therapy include sore throat, difficulty swallowing, fatigue, skin discoloration at the site of treatment, and/or loss of appetite. Another hi-tech treatment known as radiosurgery can also be suggested for eligible patients with smaller tumors for better results at eradicating the tumor.
- Targeted therapy : This is another treatment that focuses on the specific cancer cells. The genetically mutated cancer cells are observed and their proteins and specific genes monitored carefully. A genetic mutation is what turns healthy cells into cancer cells. Upon identifying the mutation, doctors can curate a treatment designed to treat the patient’s cancer cells. Like chemotherapy, it also has similar side-effects which usually go away with the discontinuation of the treatment.
- Immunotherapy: A relatively safer form of treatment, immunotherapy uses a person’s own immune system to identify and target the cancer cells. Our immune system does not attack normal and healthy cells because it makes use of a sort of protein checkpoints that tells it whether a particular cell is healthy or needs to be destroyed. Cancer cells are sometimes notorious for using such protein checkpoints in order to evade themselves from the immune system. Nevertheless, it will have its own set of side effects ranging from an autoimmune reaction to infusion reactions.
- Surgery: surgery does a better and safer treatment for early-stage lung cancer. Surgically removing a localized tumor and the surrounding tissue is a much simpler procedure for lung cancer detected at an early stage. However, not all tumors are removable.
If the tumor has invaded a vital piece of organ, or the patient has poorly functioning lungs, surgery may not be possible. Lung cancer treatment specialists in Delhi like Dr. P.K. Das can help identify such complications and pose a viable course of treatment for the troubled.
A cancer diagnosis, especially that of lung cancer, can be frightening and upsetting. However, with today’s advanced technology and medical innovation, a positive diagnosis does not always have to mean death. With the best oncologist in Delhi NCR, Dr. P.K.Das, you can have all your queries answered and assured with a promise of top-notch treatment and care.