Lung cancer is the set of malignant tumors that appear in the tissues of the lower respiratory tract , primarily at the level of the bronchi or alveoli. There are different histological subtypes with less or more aggressiveness ( the most frequent are adenocarcinomas, squamous carcinomas and microcytic carcinomas ). The main cause of lung cancer is smoking, although it is not the only one, there are other toxic substances polluting industrial or environmental origin that through the inhalation route are also capable of damaging genetically and epigenetically respiratory cells and end up producing the disease. In patients who are never smokers with lung cancer, a significant percentage have spontaneously (non-inherited) alterations or genetic mutations that would explain the development of the disease. The hereditary factor in this disease has little weight, being able to have families with more predisposition than others, but with little significant differences in comparison to the rest of etiologies.
With what symptoms is lung cancer manifested
The most frequent symptoms with which a lung cancer develops are:- hemoptysis (or blood in the sputum)- persistent cough- chest pain- dyspnoea or difficulty breathing- toxic syndrome (tiredness and loss of appetite and / or weight)
How to diagnose lung cancer
The fundamental test for the diagnosis of lung cancer is the CT scan or thoracic scanner, which allows a radiological diagnosis of the suspicious lesion. At present, there is a debate about the indication to perform this test on a regular (annual) basis in people at risk, such as important or long-term smokers, in order to make an early diagnosis that favors the cure. Another fundamental test for the diagnosis and especially for the statification of the disease is the PET / Tac. Finally, biopsy, which can be done by bronchoscopy, EBUS (echo-bronchoscopy) or transthoracic puncture (in more peripheral lesions).
Treatment Routes for Lung Cancer
The treatment of lung cancer will depend on the histological subtype as well as the genetic and / or molecular profile of the patient (increasingly relevant in the selection of more personalized treatments). It will also depend on the stage of the disease: thus, in the early stages (stages I and II), surgery and stereotactic radiotherapy (for patients with a higher surgical risk) are of choice. In locally advanced stages (stage III) the fundamental treatment will be radiotherapy and chemotherapy sometimes combined with monoclonal antibodies (and surgery only in selected cases). In the advanced stage (stage IV) the treatments will be systemic (chemotherapies, monoclonal antibodies and / or immunotherapies), in order to delay the progression of the disease to the maximum, thus achieving a longer life and, above all, better quality for the patient.
How do you foresee the future for this disease?
Fortunately Medical Oncology specialists are increasingly equipped with weapons to treat lung cancer. This allows us to look to the future with more optimism while giving our patients more opportunities to overcome or cope with this disease.