The diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer and other cancers of the respiratory system are the main goals of the medical specialty known as pulmonary oncology. One of the most prevalent and harmful cancers is lung cancer. More than 43,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with the illness each year. Most lung cancer patients are older.It is rare among individuals younger than 40 years of age. More than 4 out of 10 lung cancer patients in the UK are 75 years or older.
Although lung cancer can develop in people who have never smoked, smoking is the most common cause of lung cancer, with more than 70 out of 100 cases. This is because smoking frequently exposes users to a variety of toxic substances. (1)
Definition and Overview
The trachea, bronchus, or lung tissue are the first places where lung cancer develops. Lung cancer that develops from within is referred to as primary lung cancer. Primary lung cancer comes in different types. Non-small cell lung cancer is the most prevalent type. Depending on the sort of treatment needed, the patient.
The patient usually starts the treatment process by seeing the GP and they can refer the patient to a specialist and arrange tests. Another option is to refer the patient to a specialist and have additional tests done if a lung cancer screening or lung health checkup reveals that the patient may have lung cancer.
A team of professionals from various departments who specialize in treating lung cancer collaborates to deliver the best care possible. The medical professionals required to identify cancer, diagnose it, and plan the best course of action are part of this team. (2)
The type of treatment received for lung cancer depends on several factors, including:
● the type of lung cancer you have (non-small cell or small cell mutations in the cancer)
● the size and location of the cancer
● stage of cancer
● general condition of health
Deciding which treatment is best can be difficult, at which point the cancer team makes recommendations, but the patient makes the final decision.
There are 3 main types of lung cancer surgery, including
- lobectomy (removal of 1 of the large pieces of the lung (lobes)),
- pneumonectomy (removal of the entire lung),
- wedge resection, or segmentectomy (removal of a small piece of the lung).
It should be noted that it is likely that respiratory difficulties will persist following the operation if they existed before it. Surgery often entails cutting an incision in your side or chest and removing all or a portion of the damaged lung. It's known as a thoracotomy.
Radiation pulses are used in radiotherapy to kill cancer cells. Lung cancer can be treated in a variety of methods. RPatients who cannot have surgery for their non-small cell lung cancer may benefit from radical radiation, an intense course of radiotherapy. Instead of surgery, a special kind of radiotherapy called stereotactic radiotherapy may be utilized for extremely small tumors.
Radiotherapy called prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI) can be utilized to treat small-cell lung cancer. Because there is a possibility that small cell lung cancer can move to the brain, it is utilized as a preventive strategy.
Chemotherapy employs powerful cancer-killing medication to treat cancer. A cycle consists of a few days of chemotherapy medication administration followed by a break to allow the therapy to take effect and the body to recuperate from its effects. The type and grade of lung cancer will determine the necessary number of cycles. Most patients require 4 to 6 treatment cycles spread out over 3 to 6 months. After these cycles are over, additional therapy might not be required if the cancer has disappeared.
The doctor will determine whether a different type of treatment is required if the cancer has not improved after these cycles. As an alternative, chemotherapy for maintenance may be required to keep the cancer under control.
Immunotherapy is a combination of drugs that stimulates the body's immune system to target and kill cancerous cells. Both alone and in conjunction with chemotherapy are options for use. Pembrolizumab and atezolizumab are two immunotherapy medicines used to treat lung cancer.
● Targeted therapies
Targeted therapies, also known as biologic therapies, are medicines that are intended to inhibit the spread of advanced non-small cell lung cancer. Only individuals whose cancerous cells have certain proteins are candidates for targeted therapy. To determine whether these treatments are appropriate for the patient, the doctor may request testing (biopsy) on cells obtained from the lung. (3)
Those who experience the following symptoms may be candidates for pulmonary oncology treatments.
● cough that does not go away and gets worse for 3 weeks or more
● chest infections that keep coming back
● spitting blood
● pain or soreness when breathing or coughing
● persistent shortness of breath
● constant tiredness or lack of energy
● loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss (4)
Risk and Side Effects
Pulmonary oncology treatments are a challenging process for many patients. In the process of these treatments, there are risks and side effects developed by each treatment. These generally include:
● inflammation or infection of the lung (pneumonia)
● excessive bleeding
● a blood clot in the leg
● fatigue (tiredness)
● persistent cough
● difficulties swallowing (dysphagia)
● redness and soreness of the skin
● mouth ulcers
● hair loss
● feeling tired, sick, or weak
● loss of appetite
● pain in the joints or muscles
● shortness of breath
● changes to the skin
● mouth ulcers
● breathing problems
● coughing up blood (5)
Post-Procedure and Follow-up
Following a procedure, patients are closely monitored for any complications or adverse reactions. Vital signs, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels, may be regularly checked to ensure stability. Depending on the procedure and individual circumstances, patients may require rehabilitation and physical therapy to regain strength, improve breathing, and optimize overall lung function.
Coping with a pulmonary oncology procedure can be emotionally challenging. Patients may experience emotional distress, anxiety, or fear. Patients who need assistance navigating these emotional aspects of recovery can benefit from counseling or support groups, as well as assistance from healthcare professionals, family, and friends.
Lung cancer patients may experience a range of effects on their daily lives, depending on the stage of the disease and the sort of treatment they are undergoing. Limiting your work hours, engaging with others who are experiencing similar difficulties, talking to friends and family, and taking time for yourself can all be helpful.
1- NHS. Lung cancer. (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/lung-cancer/)
2- Cancer Research UK. Lung Cancer. (https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/lung-cancer)
3,5- NHS. Lung cancer treatment. (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/lung-cancer/treatment/)
4- NHS. Lung cancer symptoms. (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/lung-cancer/symptoms/)