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Lung cancer: signs, symptoms, causes and treatment

Lung cancer unfortunately is one of the most common causes of cancer in the UK the most common symptoms of lung cancer are having a cough that often lasts for more than three weeks coughing up blood feeling breathless or having a severe pain in the chest in addition sometimes patients with lung cancer have a loss of appetite and because of this can also lose a considerable amount of weight it is important to know however that it is perfectly possible to have a lung cancer without any symptoms at all in the UK approximately 85% of cases of lung cancer are directly linked to exposure to tobacco so smoking is still unfortunately one of the commonest causes of lung cancer in addition exposure to dust such as asbestos and in particularly the dust the gas radon also predisposes to lung cancer what we’re increasingly recognizing however is that people who have never smoked or have no obvious exposure to either asbestos or age or radon are also developing lung cancer and this proportion of patients who have never smoked and developing lung cancer appears to be increasing unfortunately in my clinical practice far too often I hear that lung cancer is a death sentence this is very much not the case with modern treatments if we’re able to detect lung cancer early enough we can offer treatment such as surgery and high doses of radiotherapy which have been shown to cure lung cancer in the majority of patients the key however is detecting the disease at a stage that is early enough for those treatments to be applied in the UK is very common for patients to have a CT scan carried out of their neck chest and upper abdomen as an initial investigation they would then commonly see a respiratory specialist like myself who would take a history from the patient to clarify what their risk factors may be for lung cancer and importantly to learn about their symptoms and also their wishes as a patient we would then as the next step want to carry out a biopsy tests this will tell us exactly first of all whether it is a lung cancer and secondly if it is a lung cancer what type of lung cancer it may be we may then want to do a third test which would be a PET CT scan which may help to clarify the extent to which the cancer has spread if at all once we have all of this information together including the extent to which the cancer has spread along with the type of cancer we’re dealing with its then important to sit down and discuss the treatment options with the patient so end up on kill ultrasound or IBAs has become a very important procedure for the diagnosis and staging of lung cancer it is now routinely performed to obtain biopsies on patients in the UK and worldwide for diagnosing lung cancer the procedure itself is relatively straightforward it is done in an outpatient setting with the patient receiving an injection as a sedative this means that they are very calm and relaxed but still easily rouse Abul a spray is usually applied to the back of the throat to make the throat numb and then a small telescope is introduced via the mouth into the lungs this is not a painful procedure there is coughing involved but is mitigated by the operator using local anaesthetic once the telescope is inside the lungs the operator is able to take an ultrasound probe and have a close look at all of the lymph nodes within the center of the chest once they have identified an area that they wish to sample under direct vision of the ultrasound they’re able to take biopsies from the lymph nodes within the center of the chest a procedure will take typically 30 to 40 minutes and is generally very well tolerated the patient would then recover for an hour or two within the hospital unit before being discharged home the results from the procedure are generally extremely good and we would expect a positive answer from at least nine out of ten procedures the procedure is also extremely safe and well tolerated and complications are extremely rare