Lung Cancer: Common, Deadly and Treated with Determination and Leading-Edge Methods

What is lung cancer?

Lung cancer is the United States’ second most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer deaths, killing nearly 160,000 people annually. Each year, about 228,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer, and 1 in 14 people will receive this diagnosis in their lifetime. While progress in understanding this disease has been made in understanding this disease, 5-year survivability has increased from 12% in the early 1970s to just 17% today. In fact, lung cancer claims more human lives than prostate, colon and breast cancer combined.

There are three types of lung cancer:

  • Non-small-cell lung cancer – The most common type of lung cancer, affecting about 85% of lung cancer patients. Subtypes are squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma and large-cell carcinoma.
  • Small-cell lung cancer – This type accounts for 10% to 15% of lung cancers. Also known as “oat cell cancer,” it tends to spread quickly.
  • Lung carcinoid tumor – A slow growing cancer type that rarely spreads, these tumors make up less than 5% of all lung cancers.

What puts a person at risk for lung cancer?

As you may guess, the leading cause of lung cancer is smoking. Cigarette smokers have 20 times the risk for lung cancer than nonsmokers. About 50% of people diagnosed with lung cancer are former smokers, and only about 10% to 15% are people who have never smoked. Other common causes are exposure to second-hand smoke, coal dust, asbestos and radon gas. While some people without toxic exposure do develop lung cancer, most lung cancer is associated with these exposures, especially cigarettes.

Be aware of lung cancer’s symptoms.

Symptoms of lung cancer include chest pain, coughing up blood and recurrent pneumonia. If lung cancer is more advanced, symptoms can include loss of appetite, weight loss and bone pain. Unfortunately, symptoms are generally what drives the initial doctor visit and, eventually, a lung cancer diagnosis. Early detection has proved challenging, but the efforts to improve detection and, therefore, treatment outcomes is ongoing.

How is lung cancer diagnosed?

Symptoms usually lead to a medical imaging scan, with either CT or PET. CT is able to see lesions on the lung that are often not visible with X-ray. PET combines regular CT (computed tomography) with positron-emission tomography. The CT enables doctors to see anatomical structure while the PET scan shows where cancer-cell activity is high. Together, they reveal the cancer’s location and level of metabolic activity. Pathology examination of tumors confirms.

How is lung cancer treated?

In the past several years, science has seen an explosion in the understanding of the biology of lung cancer, which is contributing to the development of new treatments for it and new hope for patients. Treatment usually consists of some combination of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, with the specifics depending on a number of different factors. For example, different cell types are treated in different ways. Earlier stages of lung cancer development are generally more curable. And if the patient is too weak or has too poor a prognosis, treatment is not recommended. Of course, Alpha Med Physicians Group’s oncologists do provide treatment as necessary to keep these people comfortable, known as palliative treatment.

Get state-of-the-art care for lung cancer… close to home!

When it comes to lung cancer, Alpha Med Physicians Group is determined to always offer leading-edge treatment… and the compassion, understanding and commitment these individuals depend on. We follow all the latest protocols, work with the area’s most experienced and talented surgeons, and provide the conscientious guidance, support and advocacy that are essential to your (or your loved one’s comfort, hopefulness and best chances for a high-quality life.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment for lung cancer surgery in Tinley Park, Homewood, Palos Heights and the greater Chicago area, call 708-342-1900. You can also request an appointment using our easy online form on this page.