Lung cancer is the deadliest and most dreaded type of cancer for men as well as women. Moreover, lung cancer is usually detected at the last stage as the symptoms begin to show up only at the later stages. This type of cancer is the most common cancer across the world and constituted nearly 1.8 million new cases and 1.6 million deaths in 2012.
Lung cancer refers to cancer that forms in the lung tubes (bronchi). There are two types of lung cancer:
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC): This is the most common type of cancer which grows and spreads at a slower rate as compared to Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC).
Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC): This type of cancer comprises 20% of lung cancer types.
If the cancer is a manifestation of both these types of cancer, then it is called mixed small cell/large cell cancer.
Smoking can heighten the risk of lung cancers.
Some of the common symptoms are:
Difficulty in breathing
Loss of appetite followed by weight loss
Hoarseness and intermittent coughing (including coughing up blood)
Most patients neglect early symptoms and present the case to the doctor only in the advanced stages of lung cancer. Treatment of advanced stage lung cancer includes only chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Early stages of lung cancer are best treated with surgery. Earlier, the only way to remove a tumor in the lung was through open chest surgery (thoracotomy). This type of surgery requires one huge incision (6 to 8 inches) in the chest between the ribs. The procedure can be quite painful and requires a long period of rest.
In the advent of new and improved technology, thoracic surgeons now use minimally invasive procedures to remove the affected part. This means that surgeons now need to make only three incisions measuring 1 inch. This type of surgery also ensures that the heart is not affected. The benefits of minimally invasive surgery include less pain, less number of days at the hospital, reduced dependency on narcotic pain medication and a faster recovery period.
Get in touch with Dr. Dinesh, has completed a visiting scholarship at the University of Pittsburgh, USA in thoracic oncology and is currently practicing at Can-C, Bengaluru. Dr. Dinesh is one of the few Indian oncologists who specialize in minimally invasive thoracic surgery (video assisted thoracic surgery).