Lung Cancer

BY Will Ernst

How it is related to me?

My Grandma had it in 2011, but she is fine now. Right now in 2014-2015 my Mom has it. She is doing well.

How it affects the body?

Your lungs are part of a system of organs and tissues that allow you to breathe. They perform this role by taking air into your body and then moving bad gases back out. When you have lung cancer, abnormal cells form a tumor in your lungs. These cancer cells begin to damage and destroy your lung tissue.


Heavy exposure tobacco smoke at work has shown to double the risk of lung cancer. Cigarette smoking is the main cause of lung cancer. Pipe, cigar and cigarette are still much more likely to get lung cancer than non smokers.


  • -A cough that does not go away or gets worse.
  • -Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing.
  • -Hoarseness.
  • -Weight loss and loss of appetite.
  • -Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum
  • -Shortness of breath.
  • -Feeling tired or weak.



A surgical oncologist is a doctor who specializes in treating cancer using surgery. For lung cancer, a thoracic surgeon is specially trained to perform lung cancer surgery. The goal of surgery is the complete removal of the lung tumor and the nearby lymph nodes in the chest. The tumor must be removed with a surrounding border or margin of normal lung tissue. A “negative margin” means that when the pathologist examines the lung, or piece of lung that has been removed by the surgeon, no cancer was found in the healthy tissue surrounding the tumor.

Lobectomy. The lungs have five lobes, three in the right lung and two in the left lung. For NSCLC, the removal of an entire lobe of the lung in a procedure called a lobectomy is often the most effective type of surgery, even when the lung tumor is very small.

A wedge. If the surgeon cannot remove an entire lobe of the lung, the surgeon can remove the tumor, surrounded by a margin of normal lung.

Segmentectomy. This is another way to remove the cancer when an entire lobe of the lung cannot be removed. In a segmentectomy, the surgeon removes the portion of the lung where the cancer developed.

Pneumonectomy. If the tumor is close to the center of the chest, the surgeon may have to remove the entire lung.

Radiofrequency ablation. Radiofrequency ablation is the use of a needle inserted into the tumor to destroy the cancer with an electrical current. It is sometimes used for a lung tumor that cannot be removed with the other types of surgery listed above.

Adjuvant therapy

Adjuvant therapy is treatment that is given after surgery to lower the risk of the lung cancer returning. Adjuvant therapy may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and possibly targeted therapy. Each therapy is described below. It is intended to get rid of any lung cancer cells that may still be in the body after surgery. It also can decrease the risk of recurrence, though there is always some risk that the cancer will come back.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is the use of high energy x-rays or other particles to destroy cancer cells. If you need radiation therapy, you will be asked to see a specialist called a radiation oncologist, a doctor who specializes in giving radiation therapy to treat cancer. The most common type of radiation treatment is called external-beam radiation therapy, which is radiation given from a machine outside the body. A radiation therapy regimen (schedule) usually consists of a specific number of treatments given over a set period of time. This can vary from just a few days of treatment to several weeks.


Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to destroy cancer cells, usually by stopping the cancer cells’ ability to grow and divide. It has been shown to improve both the length and quality of life for people with lung cancer of all stages. Chemotherapy is given by a medical oncologist, a doctor who specializes in treating cancer with medication.

Systemic chemotherapy is delivered through the bloodstream to reach cancer cells throughout the body. Common ways to give chemotherapy include an intravenous (IV) tube placed into a vein using a needle or in a pill or capsule that is swallowed (orally). Most chemotherapy used for lung cancer is given by IV injection.

Chemotherapy may also damage normal cells in the body, including blood cells, skin cells, and nerve cells. This may cause low blood counts, an increased risk of infection, hair loss, mouth sores, and/or numbness or tingling in the hands and feet. Your medical oncologist can often prescribe drugs to help relieve many of these side effects. Hormone injections are also used to prevent white and red blood cell counts from becoming too low.

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets the cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. This type of treatment blocks the growth and spread of cancer cells while limiting damage to healthy cells.

Facts and statistics

  • Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in both men and women in the United States. In 1987, it surpassed breast cancer to become the leading cause of cancer deaths in women.
  • Lung cancer is the most common cancer worldwide, accounting for 1.8 million new cases and 1.6 million deaths in 2012.
  • The 5-year relative survival rate for all cancers diagnosed in 2004-2010 was 68%, up from 49% in 1975-1977.
  • The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) estimates that the direct medical costs (total of all health care expenditures) for cancer in the US in 2011 were $88.7 billion.
  • An estimated 158,040 deaths are expected to occur in 2015, accounting for about 27% of all cancer deaths.
  • An estimated 221,200 new cases of lung cancer are expected in 2015.
  • Screening with spiral CT has been shown to reduce lung cancer deaths by 16% to 20% compared to standard chest x-ray among adults with a 30 pack-year smoking history
  • Lung cancer is classified as small cell (13%) or non small cell (83%) for the purposes of treatment.
  • From 2007 to 2011, rates decreased by 2.9% per year in men and by 1.9% per year in women
  • The 1- and 5-year relative survival rates for lung cancer are 44% and 17%
  • Additional occupational exposures that increase risk include rubber manufacturing, paving, roofing, painting, and chimney sweeping.


  • Avoid low-calorie or non-nutritious foods and drinks
  • Eat whenever you are hungry
  • Supplement with high-calorie drinks if necessary
  • Use herbs and spices to make food more appealing
  • Try liquid or pureed meals if you are struggling to eat
  • Eat several small meals throughout the day
  • Avoid foods if they cause you constipation or diarrhea

  • Avoid food that is very hot or very cold
  • Mint and ginger teas can help soothe your gut
  • Do not take dietary supplements without consulting with your doctor
  • Eat sitting up. Do not lie down after eating
  • Eat bland foods if your stomach is upset or your mouth hurts
  • Eat high fiber foods to help relieve constipation