Lung cancer is a malignant (meaning it can spread to other parts of the body) tumor that begins in the cells of the lung. When cancer begins in the cells of the lung it is known as primary lung cancer.
Cancers of the lung are divided into non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). These designations are based on the type of cell in which cancer started.
Non-small cell lung cancer typically begins starts in glandular cells on the outer part of the lung. This type of cancer is called adenocarcinoma and can also start in thin flat squamous cells which line the bronchi (large airway tubes which branch off from the windpipe into the lungs). This type of lung cancer is termed squamous cell carcinoma of the lung.
A less common type of non-small cell lung cancer is large cell carcinoma. Rare types of NSCLC include sarcoma and sarcomatoid carcinoma.
Small cell lung cancer normally begins in cells which line the bronchi in the center of the lungs. The two primary types of small cell lung cancer are small cell carcinoma and combined small cell carcinoma.
Although other types of cancer can spread to the lung, these are not the same disease as primary lung cancer.
Causes & Symptoms of Lung Cancer
Research shows that a full 90 percent of lung cancers in men and more than 70 percent in women could be prevented by smoke-free environments. However, other carcinogens including radon gas, uranium, arsenic, and asbestos can also cause lung cancer.
Lung cancer typically doesn't cause signs and symptoms in its earliest stages. Signs and symptoms of lung cancer typically occur only when the disease is advanced. (2)
Lung cancer symptoms include:
- a persistent, chronic or worsening cough
- chest pain that is constant and made worse by deep breathing or coughing
- blood-stained mucus that is coughed up from the lungs
- shortness of breath
- frequent chest infections (bronchitis or pneumonia)
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- collapsed lung
- severe shoulder pain
- Horner’s syndrome
Late signs and symptoms present as lung cancer grows larger or spreads to other parts of the body.
- the buildup of fluid around the lungs
- bone pain
- difficulty swallowing
- neurological changes including a headache, limb numbness, dizziness, weakness or seizures
- enlarged lymph nodes in the neck or above the collarbone
Who Gets Lung Cancer
Relating to the causes of lung cancer, people who smoke any type of tobacco, regularly breathe in second-hand smoke or are exposed to asbestos or radon are most at risk of developing lung cancer. The risk significantly increases for those exposed to a combination of any of the above risk factors.
Other risk factors include:
- A family history of lung cancer
- Air pollution
- Previous lung disease
- Past cancer treatment
- Previous smoking-related cancers
- Lowered immunity
- Indoor burning of coal
According to data from SEER 18 2006-2012, approximately 6.6 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with lung and bronchus cancer at some point during their lifetime.
Prognosis if You Have Lung Cancer
For treatment purposes, doctors often use a simpler system based on whether or not cancer can likely be removed (resected) with surgery:
• Resectable cancers are those that doctors believe can be removed completely by surgery.
• Unresectable cancers have spread too far or are in too difficult a place to be removed entirely by surgery.
Generally speaking, most Stage 0, I, and II cancers and possibly some stage III cancers are resectable. Most Stage III and IV tumors are unresectable.
However, this also depends on other factors, such as the size and location of cancer and whether a person is healthy enough for surgery.
The 5-year relative survival rate for lung cancer:
- Stage I – 58-73 percent
- Stage 2 – 36-46 percent
- Stage 3 – 19-24 percent
- Stage 4 – 2-13 percent
Conventional medicine’s main types of treatment for lung cancer include:
- Radiation therapy
- Palliative therapy
Sources: American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, Cancer Research UK, Cancer Research Society, Candian Cancer Society
Potential problems with lung cancer are inflammation and swelling in the lungs, which are things that can cause congestion. Before a cancer cell dies it gets sick. The problem is that once the cancer cell gets sick the immune system recognizes the cell as being sick and attacks it (to kill it) and this causes inflammation and swelling, meaning congestion. This is not good to happen inside the lungs.
In addition, there are several different causes of fluids both inside and outside of the lungs.
Furthermore, the cancer itself can cause lung congestion due to cancer cells. However, killing these cancer cells can create temporary additional congestion. This means treating lung cancer, especially advanced lung cancer cases, is very, very tricky.
Alternative Cancer Treatments: Lung Cancer
Protocols includes liver flushes, coffee enemas, dietary regimens, electromedicine, and supplements.
How to Prevent Lung Cancer
There are lifestyle decisions you can make to lower the risk of developing lung cancer, including quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight by being active and eating a healthy diet: vegetables; fruits; whole-grain bread, pasta, and cereals; fish; poultry; and beans. Also, you should limit processed meat and red meat.
According to the AACR Foundation, “Tobacco smoking is the most important risk factor for lung cancer. Cigarette, cigar, and pipe smoking all increase the risk of lung cancer. Tobacco smoking causes about 9 out of 10 cases of lung cancer in men and about 8 out of 10 cases of lung cancer in women.
“Studies have shown that smoking low tar or low nicotine cigarettes does not lower the risk of lung cancer. Studies also show that the risk of lung cancer from smoking cigarettes increases with the number of cigarettes smoked per day and the number of years smoked. People who smoke have about 20 times the risk of lung cancer compared to those who do not smoke.” (1)
The immune system contains many different types of “cells,” however, only a handful of these white blood cells actually kill cancer cells. It should be the intent of a person with cancer to focus on treatments that quickly increase the count of the cancer-killing white blood cells.
Some research shows that people who are physically active have a lower risk of lung cancer than those who are not. However, since smokers tend to have different levels of physical activity than nonsmokers, it is difficult to know if physical activity affects the risk of lung cancer. (1)
Immune System Health
A healthy immune system remains your body's best defense. Not only is a weak immune system a major reason patients have cancer — and cancer itself can further weaken the immune system.
Beta glucans may help regulate the immune system, making it more efficient. In addition, beta glucans may stimulate white blood cells (lymphocytes) that bind to tumors or viruses and release chemicals to destroy it.
Beta Glucan has been approved in Japan, Australia, South Korea, and Taiwan as an immunoadjuvant therapy for cancer. In fact, helping with cancer is just the beginning with Beta Glucan. There are many studies showing the product can protect against infections, lower your cholesterol, lower blood sugar, reduce stress, increase your antibody production, heal wounds, help radiation burns, overcome mercury-induced immunosuppression (like Thimerosal, used as a preservative in vaccines), help with diabetes, and even naturally prevent metastasis (or the spreading of your cancer).
Harvard Medical School suggests following general good-health guidelines is the single best step you can take toward keeping your immune system strong and healthy:
- Don't smoke.
- Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in saturated fat.
- Exercise regularly.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Control your blood pressure.
- If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
- Get adequate sleep.
- Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
- Get regular medical screening tests for people in your age group and risk category.
More Information: Building the Immune System
Your diet plays a role in a healthy immune system. The top vitamins your immune system needs to perform include:
- Vitamin C — helps to repair and regenerate tissues and aids in the absorption of iron
- Vitamin E — a powerful antioxidant that helps your body fight off infection
- Vitamin B6 — supports adrenal function and is necessary for key metabolic processes
- Vitamin A — aids immune function and helps provide a barrier against infections
- Vitamin D — modulates cell growth, promotes neuromuscular and immune function, and reduces inflammation
- Folate — key in development of red blood cells (a lack of Folate can make the body susceptible to cancer)
- Iron — helps your body carry oxygen to cells
- Selenium — slows the body's overactive responses to certain aggressive forms of cancer
- Zinc — slows the immune response and control inflammation in your body