Cases of lung cancer in India have steadily increased over the years. A recent study by the Indian Council of Medical Research reported that India is likely to witness a seven-fold increase in instances of lung cancer in the next few years. And unfortunately, 45% of all lung cancer patients are diagnosed only when the disease has spread to other parts of the body. Reasons for this huge surge range from pollution and smoking (both active and passive) to even drinking water with a high amount of arsenic. Read on to learn more about lung cancer treatment, including options, side effects, recovery time, and tips for living with lung cancer.
How is Lung Cancer Diagnosed?
Lung cancer is one of the hardest cancers to detect because the symptoms are typically similar to other less severe problems unless the cancer has progressed to an advanced stage. As a leading lung cancer specialist in Nagercoil, we suggest you visit the doctor if you experience a cough or pneumonia that recurs or doesn’t go away. Some other early symptoms include chest pain that worsens when breathing or coughing, wheezing, and unexplained weight loss.
Lung cancer treatment begins with diagnostic tests, ranging from a physical examination to blood tests, x-ray, CT scans, and biopsy. While X-rays aren’t as effective as CT scans, especially in the starting stages, they point towards something suspicious and appear as a white-grey mass on the chest. Some of the tests to diagnose lung cancer include:
- X-Ray/ CT Scan: While an X-ray would reveal an abnormal mass on the chest, a CT scan can pick up small lesions in the lungs.
- Sputum Cytology: Samples of patients with a continuous cough are examined to check for lung cancer cells.
- Biopsy: A bronchoscopy involves passing down a lighted tube to detect lymph nodes. Similarly, mediastinoscopy involves making an incision at the base of the neck to take tissue samples.
Similarly, doctors may also take further tests to determine how far along you are in the disease. For instance, a CT, MRI, or PET scan helps doctors find if the cancer has spread beyond the lungs.
Lung Cancer Treatment Options
Treatment for lung cancer will depend on your age, medical history and overall health. Sometimes, if the patient chooses to forego treatment, the doctor may recommend comfort care to manage the cancer symptoms. And sometimes, the doctor may suggest a combination of treatments, depending on the extent of the disease and the type of lung cancer. Common lung cancer treatment options include:
Surgery is suggested for early-stage lung cancer and depends on the size and location of the tumour. For instance, a wedge resection is done to remove a small part of the lung, while a pneumonectomy is done to remove the entire lung. A lobectomy involves removing an entire lung, while sleeve resection involves reattaching the lungs after removing the affected area of the bronchus.
As the name suggests, the process involves using high-energy beams to kill or shrink cancer cells. It is combined with surgery or chemotherapy to help alleviate pain and other symptoms, especially in patients with advanced stages of lung cancer. The therapy is generally painless and involves patients wearing special shields to protect healthy cells surrounding the affected area.
This fairly new treatment involves using drugs, vaccines, and other therapies to encourage the body’s immune system to fight cancer. In India, the government has approved using drugs like nivolumab, durvalumab, and atezolizumab to treat non-small cell lung cancers. While this treatment is generally safe, it may not be administered to patients with auto-immune diseases like lupus, Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
While radiation and surgery target only the affected area, chemotherapy targets the entire body. It is administered as an IV, pills, or both to kill cancer cells. It is done before or after surgery to shrink the cancer and combined with other therapies like radiation therapy to kill any remaining cancer cells.
Stereotactic radiotherapy involves targeting multiple and intense radiations from multiple angles to kill cancer cells. This procedure is suggested for patients with small lung cancers who cannot undertake surgery.
This is suggested to minimise cancer symptoms and alleviate pain. It is found that patients undergoing palliative care live longer than those with chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Lung Cancer Treatment Side Effects
Lung cancer treatment is a long-drawn process with wide-ranging side effects that range from shortness of breath and fatigue to stomach ache and hair loss. Some of the common lung cancer treatment side effects include:
- Breathing problems
- Nausea and vomiting
- Changes in appearance
- Weight loss
- Long-term neuropathy
You must discuss with the doctor about managing these side effects. The latter may suggest healthy eating and staying active through exercising. You must also avoid alcohol and tobacco.
Lung Cancer Treatment Recovery
The road to recovery is long-drawn, and one involving palliative care. The doctor may suggest a palliative care specialist or dietician to manage the symptoms and improve your quality of life during treatment.
Finding a Lung Care Specialist in Nagercoil
A lung care specialist or thoracic oncologist has the experience and expertise to treat lung cancer. But even though the oncologist is the primary care doctor, you will be referred to various other professionals during the course of the treatment for general health care. If you are looking for a lung cancer treatment hospital in Nagercoil, we suggest visiting us. We offer round-the-clock care and are one of the most sought-after multi-speciality hospitals in Nagercoil.