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More people die of this cancer than colon, breast, and prostate cancer altogether. Cases are decreasing though, likely due to the less prevalence of smoking in society. Campaigns and laws that work to prohibit smoking in most areas have also been shown to reduce smoking rates as well. That being said, however, lung cancer is still the second most common type of cancer in men and women in the United States and is the leading cause of death due to cancer.
Lung cancer can appear in a variety of cells found in the lungs. Some of these cells include squamous cells and goblet cells. Squamous cells are flat, long cells that make up the outer parts of the epithelium. Goblet cells secrete mucous and other substances; they are commonly associated with adenocarcinomas in the lungs.
A very small percentage of lung cancer cases are diagnosed before the age of 45, with most cases being diagnosed after 65, and the average patient age is 70 according to the ACS. Luckily, there are ways to get checked for lung cancer before symptoms of the disease appear. Conventionally, doctors thought to use X-rays of the chest to see lung cancer. This method was effective for a period of time but didn't help most people who were diagnosed with this method, to live longer. As technology progressed, low-dose CAT and CT scans are now being used to identify potential cancers. It should be noted that if a patient has a pacemaker and or a rod in their spine, it can interfere with the test. Doctors recommend that patients only get these tests if they are in good health, the reason being that follow-up procedures usually include biopsies of the area and or removal of tissue in the lung or lungs. Patients who are not in good health may not survive the procedure and or could have complications. Additional benefits of these tests include the fact that other abnormalities that are not cancerous may be discovered. These could include non-cancerous tumors and infections in the lungs. The ACS reported in a three-year study that patients who got the above-mentioned tests once a year, for three years, had their chance of dying from lung cancer cut by 20 percent and from all other causes by seven percent. The downside of both the low-dose CAT and CT scans is that they do expose the subject to more radiation than an x-ray would. Patients may also need further scans after their initial test, which exposes them to more radiation.
Now, because there are so many types of lung cancers that have been diagnosed, there are multitudes of ways to treat them. For non-small cell lung cancer, the options for treatment include surgery, radiofrequency ablation, radiation, chemotherapy, targeted drug therapy, immunotherapy, and or palliative procedures. Specialists who treat this disease may be thoracic surgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, and or pulmonologists. Patients should also know that they may be able to join clinical trials for new types of drugs and or treatments that may end up being more effective than current drugs and treatments. Most people would assume that chemotherapy treatments are similar to radiation treatments, but in fact, they are not the same. Chemotherapy drugs are a class of drugs that are designed to shrink and potentially kill cancer cells. Radiation treatments are high-energy beams of x-rays or protons. These doses disrupt the DNA in the cell and usually kill it, but can also cause mutations leading to new cancers. Radiofrequency ablation is the process of conducting electricity through a needle to a cancerous mass in the body. The electrical current then heats up the cells, thereby killing them. This kind of treatment is usually only given to patients who are not able to go through surgery due to poor health and or age. This method can also be used to treat cancers in other organs and is considered minimally invasive. Small cell lung cancer is treated usually using the same treatments as non-small cell lung cancer. Patients with this disease would also typically go see the same kinds of medical professionals.
There is no doubt that Western medicine is highly effective in treating cancer, but the efficacies of medicines combined with Western medicine should also be examined. Recently, patients who have had issues relating to nausea have been prescribed cannabinoids to suppress those symptoms. Cannabinoids also help ease pain associated with treatment and allow patients to fall asleep with greater ease. Patients have also been self-medicating with different teas such as peppermint, or ginger to help with nausea. Some individuals have also seen success with meditation to help relieve the stress on the body from the medication given to help fight cancer. Patients should also be vigilant to not take therapies or other medicines that claim to be an alternative to fight cancer(s) in their body. These kinds of medicines or therapies can be extremely dangerous and can interact with the medication prescribed by your doctor. They also may not help at all and are typically untested in their efficacy. Patients should only take alternative medicine that has been shown to be effective in clinical studies and only after consulting their doctor. Diet, exercise, and therapy are also helpful in fighting cancer. Their effectiveness cannot be overstated in both physical, mental, and emotional health.
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