What is Non-small Cell Lung Cancer?
About 85% of all lung cancers are non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Sufferers with non-small cell lung cancer need full staging investigation to assess the extent of the disease, as the stage plays a key role in establishing the treatment choice. There are three main subtypes of non-small cell lung cancer. These are adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma of the lungs.
Lung cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in the world, and its prevalence is still increasing. Approximately 2.1 million new cases of lung cancer were diagnosed worldwide in 2018. The mean age for the development of NSCLS ranges between 50-57 years. It is more prevalent in men as compared to women. Cigarette or tobacco smoking increases the risk of developing NSCLC. The current 5-year survival rate is estimated at 16% for whites and 13% for non-whites.
Disease Etiology (Causes)
There are the following causes and risk factors for NSCLC.
- Cigarette smoking
- Prolonged exposure to Radon gas
- Prolonged exposure to Asbestos
- Halogen ether exposure
- Vinyl chloride exposure
- Exposure to inorganic Arsenic
- Chromium, nickel exposure
Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms vary according to the staging and extent of cancer. The patient may suffer from the following general signs and symptoms at an earlier and later stage of the disease when the tumor is still confined to the lungs and chest cavity.
- Shortness of breath ( feeling of chest tightness, difficulty in breathing or suffocation)
- Hemoptysis ( Coughing up blood)
- Bronchial obstruction ( obstruction of airway due to enlarged tumor)
- Cough shortness of breath and hemoptysis (coughing up blood) are the primary symptoms in which the tumor is localized only at the site of its origin.
In cases where the tumor has spread to other areas of the chest cavity, especially the mediastinal lymph nodes, the patient may suffer from the following symptoms. These are
- Abnormal voice changes such as hoarseness
- Stridor (loud pitched voice)
- Dysphagia (difficulty eating or swallowing food)Wheezing
Signs and Symptoms of Distant Metastasis to the Brain or Spinal Cord
Common sites of hematogenous metastases (spread through the bloodstream) include the brain, bone, liver, adrenal glands, and bone marrow. Symptoms vary by location.
- Headache that usually gets worse in the morning
- Blurred vision
- Irritability to the light
- Slurred speech ( difficulty in pronouncing words, changes in speed or rhythm while speaking)
Systemic Symptoms of Cancer
These may occur due to inflammatory changes in the body. These are
- Night sweats
- Weight loss
- Bone pains
Diagnosis and Treatment
The following diagnostic tests and procedures can be used to make a diagnosis. These are;
- Imaging techniques like Chest X-ray, CT-scan, MRI, and PET scan to see the site, size, and extent of the tumor.
- Tumor biopsy ( lung tumor biopsy to remove a small sample of lung tissue for histopathological examination)
- Sputum cytology
- USG guided fine needle aspiration cytology
- Treatment options include surgical resection of the tumor, Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. Surgery is the main option, all patients with stages I through IIIA NSCLC lung should undergo surgical resection of the tumor (complete removal of the tumor along with the removal of some surrounding healthy tissues).
- NSCLCs are relatively less responsive to chemotherapy compared to small cell carcinomas. Whenever possible, they are mainly treated with surgical resection, although chemotherapy is increasingly being used both before surgery and after surgery as adjuvant chemotherapy.
- Chemotherapy and radiation therapy should be considered in advanced and in distant cases of cancer metastasis.
What Support can we Give for Non-small Cell Lung Cancer?
Non-small Cell Lung Cancer is a rare cancer, meaning it is not as well known as other forms of cancer. Without a Ribbon is an Australian organisation that provides support for individuals who suffer from rare cancers. So, we provide a designated platform for Warriors to obtain information specific to their Rare Cancer. We also provide annual opportunities for our Warriors to meet and learn from each other. If you suffer from rare cancer such as Non-small Cell Lung Cancer, we can help and support you through your journey thanks to the generous donations we receive. Click the link below to sign up and become a Warrior today!
You can help us with your donation:
Without a Ribbon is a charity that works hard to aid those who suffer from rare cancers. You can help our cause in a variety of ways: Donations — Without a Ribbon is grateful when we receive every donation. Giving to Without a Ribbon helps us to provide ongoing support, organise the annual gathering and subsidise the costs of our Warriors attending these conferences. Sponsorship — If you wish to sponsor our charity, please contact us using this form. Volunteering — We are always looking for volunteers to help with different aspects of running our charity. So, if you are looking for volunteer work, please feel free to contact us.