Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide with 1.80 million deaths in 2020 according to WHO.
Detection of cancer itself is a matter of great concern. However, with the advancement of technologies both in detection and treatment, the survival rates are also increasing.
Let’s understand from the experience of David, a 56-year-old man from Nairobi, Kenya. David is a businessman who has two sons, a beautiful daughter, and a wonderful wife.
Two years ago, David was having a persistent cough and chest pain while deep breathing, coughing, or laughing. He was also feeling weak and tired while doing the day-to-day routine work.
David’s wife Anne encouraged him to visit the doctor. David visited a local physician for a checkup. After a physical examination, the doctor suggested he do a chest X-ray, sputum cytology, and CT scan. David did the tests.
The next day when the report came, the doctor told David that an abnormal mass was detected in the lung and the presence of lung cancer cells was found in sputum cytology.
The doctor also suggested doing a biopsy to confirm cancer and the report of biopsy confirmed the lung cancer.
After hearing the cancer news David and his wife Anne were in shock. His wife and kids supported him. The family wanted to undergo the best treatment for David.
David’s elder son started researching on the internet for the best treatment for lung cancer. While looking for treatment options he visited the MedicoExperts website, then he got to understand the Tumor Board, a new way of deciding treatment plans by a team of doctors including medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, and radio oncologists. He dropped an inquiry at the MedicoExperts website for a tumor board appointment.
The MedicoExperts patient care department got in touch with David’s family and arranged the video consultation with the thoracic surgical oncologist, who heads the board for Lung cancer. The doctor went through all the reports and took a day more to discuss with team members. A day later, the oncologist shared the board view and the MedicoExperts patient care team passed the treatment plan with David’s family.
The doctor explained the plan and the reasons behind the plan in detail. He also clarified the doubts which the family was having. David’s family understood the doctor’s recommendations and decided to go for the treatment.
MedicoExperts patient care team helped the family with visas and other logistics arrangements.
After 15 days, David and his wife came to India for treatment. David was admitted on the same day and an evaluation was performed to check the current condition.
After the evaluations treatment was started, surgery was done to remove the tumor. Surgery was followed by chemotherapy and radiation.
After 6 months of the treatment, re-evaluation was done and no cancer was detected. The doctor advised David of the post-treatment follow-ups and precautions.
David and his wife were very happy with the results and thanked the doctor and MedicoExperts.
This can be your story as well to win the battle against lung cancer. What you need is the right guidance, right treatment at the right time from the experts.
Before we move ahead with lung cancer symptoms, stages of lung cancer, lung cancer treatment, and survival rates, let’s understand what lung cancer is.
Lung cancer starts when abnormal cells become uncontrollable within the lung. They can invade neighboring tissues and form tumors. Lung cancer can occur anywhere in the lungs and can affect any area of the respiratory system. Cancer cells may spread or metastasize, into lymph nodes and other parts of the body.
Let’s now understand different types of lung cancers.
There are two main types of lung cancer, small cell lung cancers (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC). This classification is based on the appearance of tumor cells under a microscope.
1. Non-Small cell lung carcinoma
The most common type of lung cancer is non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which accounts for about 85% of all cases. NSCLC is divided into three types based on the cells found in the tumor.
The main subtypes include adeno, squamous cell, and large cell carcinoma.
- Adenocarcinoma: Adenocarcinoma begins in cells that normally release substances such as mucus. Adenocarcinoma is generally found in the external parts of the lung and is more likely to be found before its spread.
- Squamous cell carcinoma: It starts with squamous (Squamous cells are thin, flat cells that look like fish scales) cells. They tend to affect smokers.
- Large cell carcinoma (undifferentiated): Large cell carcinoma may occur in any area of the lung. It tends to develop and spread rapidly, which can make it more difficult to deal with.Other subtypes: sarcomatoid carcinoma and adenocarcinoma, are not so common.
2. Small Cell Lung Cancer
SCLC accounts for about 10% to 15% of all lung cancers.
This form of lung cancer is the most aggressive and fastest-growing of all.
SCLCs spread quickly throughout the body to a variety of locations.
3. Other types of lung cancer
With the most common types of lung cancer, other tumors may occur in the lungs.
- Lung carcinoids: Lung carcinoids make up less than 5% of lung tumors. The majority grow slowly.
- Other lung tumors: Adenoid cystic carcinoma, lymphoma, and sarcoma are other types of lung cancer.
- Cancers that spread to the lungs: Cancers that start with other organs can sometimes spread to the lungs, but they are not lung cancers. For example, cancer that begins in the breast and spreads through the lungs is always breast cancer, not lung cancer. Therapy for metastatic lung cancer is based on where it began (the primary cancer site).
The stage of your lung cancer tells you, The location, size, and spread of a tumor or cancer cells in your lungs. Lung cancer is classified according to the following six stages, depending on the time of discovery:
Doctors can detect abnormal cells in the mucous membrane of your respiratory system. They can become cancerous and affect nearby normal tissue, but they have not spread to other areas of the body.
By this time, abnormal cells have become cancerous. The cases in stage 1 are categorized as two sub-types:
Stage 1A: Cancer affected the lung with a 3 cm tumor or less that has not spread to the lymph nodes or other areas.
Stage 1B: In some cases, the lung cancer tumor is greater than 3 cm, but smaller than 4 cm, and has not metastasized to the lymph nodes. Cancer did not reach the adjacent lymph nodes.
The cases in stage 2 are categorized as two sub-types:
Stage 2A: The lung cancer tumor is less than 5 cm, but greater than 4 cm, and did not metastasize the lymph nodes.
Some or all of the lung has collapsed or is pneumonic.
Stage 2B: In some cases, the lung cancer tumor is 5 cm or smaller and has reached the lymph nodes situated in the same region of the chest as the original tumor.
There are three sub-types of stage 3 non-small cell lung cancer.
Stage 3A: Tumor less than 5 cm and reached the lymph nodes in the same area of the chest where the primary tumor was detected. Lung cancer is of any size and has reached the trachea, decay, or esophagus, among other parts of the body.
Stage 3B: The tumor is five cm or less, and the carcinoma has reached the lymph node above the collarbone in the same area of the chest.
Stage 3C: The tumor is of any size and the lymph nodes have been affected to the same or opposite side of the chest.
At least one additional tumor has developed in the same or different lobe of the lung.
Stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer cases are categorized according to two subtypes:
Stage 4A: At least one tumor formed in the lung facing the place where the original tumor formed. Cancer reached the sac around the heart of the tissue enveloping the lungs.
Stage 4B: Cancer has reached various locations in at least one distant organ of the lung.
While most lung cancers do not cause symptoms until they have spread, some people with early lung cancer do have symptoms. Once you are aware of your symptoms, check with your doctor and begin treatment.
Some common symptoms of lung cancer include:
- A cough that does not disappear or which worsens.
- Blood spit or rusty-colored spit (spit or phlegm)
- The chest pain often worsens with deep respiration, cough, or laughter.
- Decreased appetite.
- Weight loss is unexplainable.
- Running out of breath.
- Feeling exhausted or weak.
- Infections like bronchitis and pneumonia do not disappear or continue to return.
If lung cancer extends to other areas of the body, it can result in:
- Bone pain (for example, back or hip pain)
- Changes in the nervous system (headache, weakness or numbness of an arm or leg, dizziness, balance problems or convulsions), from cancer to the brain.
- The skin and eyes become yellowish.
- Enlarged lymph nodes (accumulation of immune system cells) such as those in the neck or above the collarbone.
- Certain lung cancers may cause syndromes, which are specific symptom groups.
Several factors can raise the risk of lung cancer. Certain risk factors can be controlled, such as stopping smoking. And other factors are out of control, such as family history.
Lung cancer risk factors include, but are not limited to:
- Exposure to 2nd-hand smoke.
- Past radiotherapy.
- Exposure to radon (Radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer) emissions
- Exposure to asbestos or other cancer-causing substances.
- Family history of lung carcinoma.
If your doctor suspects you have lung cancer, your doctor can suggest a series of tests to look for cancerous cells and rule out other possibilities.
Lung cancer diagnosis tests include:
An X-ray of your lungs can reveal abnormal masses or nodules. A CT scan may reveal small lesions in your lungs that may not be detected by radiography.
If you have a cough and produce sputum, watching sputum under the microscope may sometimes reveal the presence of lung cancer cells.
A sample of abnormal cells may be collected during a procedure known as a biopsy.
Your doctor may biopsy you in multiple ways, including bronchoscopy and mediastinoscopy.
Upon diagnosis of your lung cancer, your doctor will determine the extent (stage) of your cancer. The stage of your cancer helps you and your doctor decide which treatment is more appropriate.
Staging tests can include imaging procedures that allow your doctor to research evidence that cancer has spread beyond your lungs. They include computed tomography, MRI, PET, and bone scans. Not every test is suitable for every person, so talk to your doctor about the procedures that work for you.
Depending on the type of lung cancer and how far it has spread, there are several treatment options. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of these treatments can be used to treat non-small cell lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer is usually treated with a combination of radiation and chemotherapy.
During the surgical procedure, your surgeon tries to eliminate lung cancer and a healthy tissue margin. If you are undergoing surgery, your surgeon may also remove the lymph nodes from your chest to verify the signs of cancer. Surgical intervention can be an option if your cancer is limited to the lungs.
Different surgical intervention for removing lung cancer consists of:
- Wedge resection refers to removing a small part of a lung, which has the tumor, along with some healthy tissues to ensure that no traces of cancer are left behind.
- Segmental resection involves the removal of a larger section of the lung.
- Lobectomy is the process of removing the complete lobe of one lung.
- Pneumonectomy refers to the removal of the entire lung.
Radiotherapy uses high-power energy harnesses from sources such as X-rays and protons to kill cancer cells. This is often combined with chemotherapy therapies.
For advanced lung cancers, radiotherapy may help alleviate symptoms, such as pain.
Chemotherapy is often used post-surgical to kill cancer cells that may remain. Chemotherapy can also be used before surgery to decrease cancers and make them easier to remove.
Stereotactic body radiation therapy, also known as radiosurgery, is an intense radiation therapy treatment that targets many radiation bundles from many angles to cancer.
Stereotactic body radiation therapy may be an option for individuals with small lung cancers who are unable to undergo surgery.
Targeted medication treatments focus on certain abnormalities in cancer cells. By blocking these abnormalities, targeted medication treatments can cause the death of cancer cells.
Your immune system is the foundation of immunotherapy to fight cancer. Your body’s immune system that combats disease may not attack your cancer because cancer cells produce proteins that help them hide from immune system cells.
People with advanced local lung cancers can make use of Immunotherapy
Supportive care also referred to as palliative care, is a medical specialty that involves working with a physician to minimize your signs and symptoms.
The cost for lung cancer evaluation in India starts from 500 USD (37550 INR). This evaluation will help to determine the best-suited treatment plan to ensure positive outcomes. The cost for a PET scan in India ranges between USD 306 – 348 ( 22980 – 26134 INR).
The cost of lung cancer surgery in India costs between 3500 – 7000 USD (262850 – 525700 INR) depending on the chosen procedure, the chosen specialist, and the cancer treatment facility chosen. Chemotherapy is generally combined with other treatment modalities to ensure a complete cure. One cycle of chemotherapy costs between 500 – 1000 USD (37550 – 75100 INR). The cost for radiation therapy is 3500 – 5500 USD (262850 – 413050 INR). The cost for radiosurgery is 5000 – 10000 USD (375500 – 751000 INR).
The cost is nearly half the cost of treating lung cancer in western countries such as the United States or the UK. There is a wide range of prices according to the hospital and also the city in which you choose to seek treatment.
Lung cancer treatment in India is result-oriented, stress-free, and as convenient as possible. This helps the patient to completely focus on his/her recovery thus ensuring better outcomes.
The survival rate of lung cancer treatment in India is 60-65 % for patients with localized cancer. Whereas all lung cancer patients are to expect an increase in life expectancy along with betterment in quality of life.
Frequently Asked Questions and patient concerns:
1. What is stopping the growth of cancer cells?
A new study revealed that natural compounds such as resolvin are secreted by our body to stop the inflammatory reaction. It may prevent the formation of tumors when such growth is induced by cellular waste.
2. Which is the best treatment for lung cancer?
If surgery is not an option, a combination of chemotherapy and radiation can be your primary treatment. In advanced lung cancers, radiotherapy can help reduce pain.
3. How many chemotherapy sessions does it take for lung cancer?
Most people need four to six cycles of treatment in three to six months. You will meet with your physician at the end of these cycles. If the cancer is better, you may not need treatment anymore. If cancer has not improved after these cycles, your doctor will let you know if you require a different type of chemotherapy.
4. Does chemotherapy cure lung cancer?
Similar to other stages of lung cancer, treatment is dependent on the overall health of the patient. If you are reasonably healthy, you can be helped by chemotherapy (chemotherapy) combined with radiotherapy (known as chemotherapy). Some people may even be healed as a result of this treatment.
5. Is four rounds of chemotherapy a lot?
In the course of treatment, you usually have about 4 to 8 cycles of treatment. A cycle is a time between one cycle of treatment and the start of the next. After each treatment cycle, you have a break so that your body can recover.
MedicoExperts is a Global virtual hospital which is established to offer quality healthcare services at affordable pricing without compromising the success rates of the treatment. MedicoExperts is having a network of highly experienced super specialist doctors and well equipped hospitals across the globe and offering second opinion through online video consultation and surgical interventions through its empanelled super specialist doctors at its network hospitals in 17 countries from 3 continents.
By the virtue of its approach and model, MedicoExperts is successfully achieve to deliver
- Latest and most advanced treatments with success rates of international benchmarks.
- Multiple cost options depending upon the hospital facilities, with the same doctor.
- Treatment option in multiple cities/state/countries.
- Trust and peace of mind.
Most suitable for patients who are looking for:-
- Planned Surgeries and treatment from most experienced doctors and at multiple cost options as per hospital facilities with best possible outcomes.
- Second Opinion from expert doctors.
- Complex cases involving multi specialities
- International patients looking for treatment from Indian doctors