With the focus over the past 14 months being fixed on the pandemic, the numbers of cancer cases have continued in the background away from the media focus's limelight but have still wrecked families and caused heartbreak for many.
As a way of bringing the focus back to assisting anybody with a fear, concern or current challenge on their hands, this episode of ThinkTank provides an insightful overview one of the most virulent forms of cancer being lung cancer.
Lung cancer is the top cause of cancer deaths in both men and women. But this wasn't always the case. Before the widespread use of mechanical cigarette rollers, lung cancer was rare. Today, smoking causes nearly 9 out of 10 lung cancer deaths, while radon gas, pollution, and other carcinogens play a smaller role. The good news is that newly developed drugs do provide raised hopes for those diagnosed today. It is a case of staying alive and kicking for as long as possible as the advances toward a cure to prevent terminal outcomes with lung cancer is eventually found. At the end of this article, we share some measures to combat cancer.
Back to the point about cigarettes; they are packed with cancer-causing chemicals. They also disarm the lungs' natural defence system. The airways in our body are lined with tiny hairs called cilia, and they serve to protect the lungs and sweep out toxins, bacteria, and viruses. The issue with smoking is that the tobacco smoke stops the cilia from doing their job, which lets the carcinogenic chemicals build up.
Lung cancer begins quietly. There are usually no symptoms or warning signs in the early stages, but as it exacerbates, you may notice:
- A cough that won't go away
- Chest pain, especially during deep breaths
- Wheezing or shortness of breath
- Coughing up bloody phlegm
- Fatigue for no apparent reason
You Can Get Checked
A type of scan called a 'spiral C.T.' might pick up early lung cancers in some people. Still, it's not clear whether it finds them early enough to save lives, and most recently in the U.K. the government was criticised for having the worst rate on lung cancer deaths due to late scans within other developed countries. Also, in the U.S., the Preventative Services Task Force recommends that heavy smokers ages 55-80 get a C.T. scan every year. The same goes for those who used to smoke a lot and quit less than 15 years ago.
If your doctor thinks you might have lung cancer due to you exhibiting one of the many signs such as a long-lasting cough or wheezing, you'll be given a chest X-ray or other imaging tests, and you may also need to cough up phlegm for a sputum test. If either of these tests suggest that you could have cancer, then you'll likely be asked back for a biopsy.
What Is a Biopsy?
Your doctor will take a small sample of the suspicious growth, usually with a needle, for examination under a microscope. A pathologist can determine whether the tumour is lung cancer by studying the sample, and if so, what kind.
Two Main Types
Small-cell lung cancer is more aggressive, meaning it can spread quickly to other parts of the body early in the disease. It is strongly tied to cigarette use and is very rare in nonsmokers. Non-small-cell lung cancer grows more slowly and is more common, and this is responsible for almost 85% of all lung cancers.
What's the Stage?
You will often hear a 'stage' referred to when discussing lung cancer. Staging describes how far someone's cancer has spread. Small-cell lung cancer is divided into two stages: "Limited", meaning the cancer is confined to one lung and maybe nearby lymph nodes, and" Extensive" means cancer has spread to the other lung or beyond. Non-small-cell lung cancer is assigned a stage of I through to IV, depending on its spread.
When the consultant finds non-small-cell lung cancer before it spreads beyond one lung, an operation can sometimes help. The surgeon may remove the part of the lung with the tumour, or if necessary, the entire lung. Some people get radiation or chemotherapy afterwards to kill any remaining cancer cells. Surgery usually doesn't help with small-cell lung cancer because it probably has already spread before diagnosis.
If It's Advanced Lung Cancer
When lung cancer spreads too far to be cured, treatments may still help people live longer and have a better life quality. Radiation and chemotherapy can shrink tumours and alleviate symptoms, such as bone pain or blocked airways. Chemotherapy is usually the primary treatment for small-cell lung cancer. Still, it's imperative to stay as healthy and physically fit as possible because chemotherapy can only be administered to a patient not exhibiting severe deterioration signs.
Targeted therapy plus chemotherapy may help if other approaches don't work. One type prevents the growth of new blood vessels that feed cancer cells, and others interrupt the signals that prompt lung cancer cells to multiply.
Immunotherapy works with your immune system to fight advanced cases of non-small-cell lung cancer. It doesn't work for everyone, but when it does, the results are very positive, and you'll likely receive chemotherapy in conjunction.
Being diagnosed with lung cancer can be a shock. If you smoke or used to, it's not too late to make healthy changes. As you'd expect, research shows that people who quit smoking after learning they have lung cancer do far better than those who keep smoking.
Secondhand or Passive Smoke
While smoking is the top cause of lung cancer, it is not the only risk factor. Breathing in secondhand smoke at home or work also appears to raise your risk. People who are married to someone who smokes are 20% to 30% more likely to get lung cancer than nonsmokers' spouses.
Some jobs make lung cancer more likely. People who work with uranium, arsenic, and other chemicals should try to limit their exposure. Asbestos, which was once widely used in insulation, is a known cause of lung cancer. It's rarely used now, but workers exposed years ago are still at risk and are sadly yet being admitted to hospital from the asbestos that may have sat in their system.
While its relatively lower risk in the U.K., this radioactive natural gas is found at higher than normal levels in certain parts of the U.S. The gas can build up inside homes and raise the risk of lung cancer, especially in people who smoke. You can't smell or see it, but you can use a simple test kit to find it.
It causes far fewer cases than smoking, but air pollution is still something to avoid. Experts think that pollution from cars, factories, and power plants may affect the lungs' secondhand smoke. If you find yourself becoming nauseous at the petrol station when filling your car up, this can be a useful indicator that your body is too toxic, look out for it next time you visit.
What Else Puts You at Risk?
- A family history of lung cancer
- Drinking water that's high in arsenic
Lung cancer does happen to people with no well-known risk factors, including those who've never smoked, and researchers currently don't know why. This seems to happen to women more than men, and one type; adenocarcinoma, is more common in nonsmokers than smokers.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths for men and women. But if you don't smoke and avoid other people's smoke, that will significantly lower your odds of getting it. If you smoke, then you really must do whatever it takes to quit. It often takes several attempts to kick the habit, so keep trying.
If you are unfortunate enough to have cancer or know somebody who has it, here is an overview of naturopathic approaches you can take;
Green tea supplementation: If you can manage up to 5grams of Green tea a day, every day, this can significantly enhance the chances of prolonging a terminal prognosis and assisting with the cancer treatments. Green tea has been shown to help recondition our cells' DNA within the body and be very powerful detoxification botanical.
Deal with all nutrient deficiencies: Any vitamin or mineral deficiencies you happen to discover in your diet, get on to it immediately with a good quality supplementation. To help steer you, we are most often deficient in Zinc, Magnesium, Omega 3 and Vitamin D3.
Reduce Inflammation: The body needs inflammation for many essential processes, such as helping itself heal and to kill pathogens and harmful bacteria in the gut, but silent inflammation is what drives all disease. Look to reduce any acidic foods from your diet to bring down the body's overall acidic, inflamed state, which will leave the inflammatory condition your body naturally triggers for its healing.
Green Drink: You cannot get enough greens into your body, so the best thing is to try any of the many forms of green drinks available on the shelves today in the health food shops. You may need to sample a few to find one you like, but this should become part of your daily regime.
Weight Train: If you are going for chemo, you need to build your body up. Ensure you increase your protein to help repair the tissue and cease any weight training at least 72 hours before your next bout of chemo and stop with the Zinc 3 days prior.
On the night of the 1st day: of the chemo, you will likely suffer insomnia, this is due to the melatonin being suppressed, so it can be wise to look to take any one of the many amino acids that help to induce melatonin such as Tryptophan and Taurine.
This is by no means an exhaustive list; many botanicals can also be incorporated into the nutrition regime, along with meditation, lifestyle habits, and other factors to avoid and change. Talk to us in more detail should you wish to get a more in-depth review of the pragmatic approaches you can take in conjunction with the medical solutions to lung cancer. It's important to give yourself the best possible chance.