NSCLC (Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer) occurs when healthy cells of the lung become malignant and outgrow their control. The tumour may be benign or cancerous and can occur anywhere in the lung. A cancerous lung tumour can grow and shed cancer cells. These cells can either be carried away by blood or float in the fluid called lymph, which surrounds lung tissue.
Metastasis is when a cancer cell moves into or out of a lymph node.
Risk Factors and Prevention
These factors could increase a person’s chance of developing NSCLC.
✔ Smoking and tobacco. Tobacco smoking damages the cells of the lungs, leading to abnormal growth. Even if a person doesn’t smoke, regular exposure to smoke from other pipes, cigarettes, or cigars can increase the risk of developing lung cancer. This is known as Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS), “secondhand tobacco smoke. Although smoking marijuana and using e-cigarettes can increase your risk of developing lung cancer, the exact risk is unknown.
✔ Asbestos. These crystals look like hair and are found in many kinds of rock. They are used to insulate buildings against fire. Inhaling asbestos fibres can irritate the lungs.
✔ Radon. Radon exposure has been linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancer, including lung cancer.
✔ Air pollution. Lung cancer can be caused by outdoor pollution, according to research.
✔ Other substances. Exposure to radiation, arsenic and nickel can increase your risk of developing lung cancer.
✔ Genetics. Some people have a genetic predisposition to lung cancer.
Signs and symptoms
NSCLC patients may experience the following symptoms and signs.
✔ Breathing difficulties
✔ If a tumour spreads to other parts of your body or the lining of your lungs, you may feel
✔ chest pain.
✔ Appetite loss
✔ Sneezing up mucus or phlegm
✔ Sneezing blood
✔ Unintentional weight loss
Metastasis is a process that allows NSCLC to spread throughout the body. NSCLC spreads most often to the lymph nodes, bone, brain, liver and structures close to the kidneys, called the adrenal glands. NSCLC metastases can lead to:
✔ More breathing problems
✔ Bone pain
✔ Back or abdominal pain
✔ Speech difficulties
✔ Rarely can lung cancer cause problems like low blood sodium or high blood calcium.
There are five main ways to treat NSCLC.
✔ Radiation therapy
✔ Targeted therapy
Surgery is performed to remove all of the lung tumours and lymph nodes from the chest.
NSCLC may be treated with the following types of surgery:
✔ A wedge resection
Lung surgery can take a while to fully recover, depending on the extent of the surgery and the patient’s overall health. These surgeries are much less invasive than in the past.
Additional treatments may be offered before and after surgery to reduce the chance of recurrence.
Neoadjuvant therapy is known as Induction Therapy. It is given before the surgery to reduce the size or treat the primary tumour.
Adjuvant therapy is a treatment given after surgery. This treatment is used to eliminate any remaining lung cancer cells after surgery. Although this reduces the chance of cancer returning, it is still possible for cancer to return.
Radiation therapy is not able to treat large amounts of cancer. Radiation therapy destroys the cancer cells directly exposed to the radiation beam. Radiation therapy also damages healthy cells. It cannot be used to treat large areas. Sometimes, it is possible to use intensity-modulated radiation treatment (IMRT) or stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT ).
Stereotactic radiation therapy may be an alternative to surgery for Stage I NSCLC patients and people who cannot have surgery.
Treatments with medication
Medication is used to destroy cancer cells. Medication is administered through the bloodstream to reach all the cancer cells in the body. This is known as systemic therapy. Locally administered medication can also be used. This is when the drug is directly applied to the cancerous area or kept in one body part.
Many medications are administered intravenously (IV) using a tube inserted into a vein with a needle or as a pill or capsule. Ask your doctor if you have been prescribed oral medication. They will be able to tell you how to store it safely and how to handle it.
These are the types of drugs that treat NSCLC:
✔ Targeted therapy
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Usually, it prevents the cancer cells from growing, dividing and multiplying. It has been proven to increase the quality and length of life for patients with lung cancer at all stages.
A chemotherapy schedule or regimen lists specific cycles over a certain period. Which drugs should be used depends on the type of lung cancer, such as adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
Targeted therapy targets specific cancer genes, proteins or tissues that support cancer growth and survival. This treatment prevents the spread and growth of cancer cells and protects healthy cells.
Immunotherapy is also known as Biological therapy. It is designed to increase the body’s natural defences against cancer. This treatment uses materials made in the body or a lab to enhance, target or restore the immune system.