Lung cancer is a very insidious disease and unfortunately, in a large number of cases, it only becomes apparent once the disease is fairly advanced. It continues to be the leading cause of death in both men and woman, with deaths worldwide exceeding well over one million per annum.
As a family affected by cancer, we are happy to offer this resource to others as a forum to tell their stories of survival, and to offer advice, opinions on treatments and therapies, and also to offer support. We are also happy to try to do the research for you in order to provide some answers to any questions that you might have.
Lung cancer is the uncontrolled division of abnormal cells, usually within the air passages of the lungs. Good healthy cells in the lungs should grow and multiply in a predictable and controlled fashion, thereby keeping the lungs nice and healthy. As they age or become damaged, they are programmed to die. However, the DNA of the cell sometimes becomes damaged or altered in some way, thereby causing mutations which affect normal growth and division. The body, thinking that these mutated cells are no longer required, produce new cells. These extra cells may form a mass of cells called a tumor. These tumors are either benign or malignant tumors.
Benign tumors are tumors that are relatively harmless and will not spread throughout the body. They can be removed permanently through surgery with little chance of them reoccurring. Malignant tumors, on the other hand, will normally invade surrounding tissue and will likely spread throughout the body through a process called metastasis.
There are several causes of DNA mutation in the lung cells. Lung cancer from smoking is the most likely cause of the disease in smokers, and ex-smokers, while exposure to asbestos, radon gas, air pollution and simple genetics are also known causes of the disease.
Symptoms of the disease are varied but perhaps the most visual is a condition called haemoptysis, which is characterized by the coughing up of blood or blood stained sputum. The condition does not necessarily mean that the condition exists but it is an indication of the possibility - haemoptysis may also be an indication of other conditions such as bronchitis or pneumonia, among others.
In the extremely unfortunate event of a positive diagnosis, the doctor will more than likely perform an assessment to determine at which stage the disease is at. Lung cancer stages are a measure of the extent to which the cancer has penetrated the rest of the body, and the stage at which the disease is at, will determine how the patient will be treated. Treatments may include chemotherapy treatment, radiotherapy or medication, or even a combination of these.
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