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Home > Mesothelioma and asbestos > Lung cancer mesothelioma

Lung cancer mesothelioma

Lung cancer is one of the asbestos-related disease.

While asbestosis and mesothelioma are the most common health risks associated with asbestos exposure, lung cancer has also been linked to asbestos. In fact, lung cancer is responsible for the largest number of deaths related to asbestos exposure. Individuals who have been exposed to other carcinogens, such as cigarette smoke, are at an increased risk for developing lung cancer than people who have only been exposed to asbestos.

Cancer of the lung, like all cancers, results from an abnormality in the body’s basic unit of life, the cell. Normally, the body maintains a system of checks and balances on cell growth so that cells divide to produce new cells only when needed. Disruption of this system of checks and balances on cell growth results in an uncontrolled division and proliferation of cells that eventually forms a mass known as a tumor.

Tumors can be benign or malignant; when we speak of “cancer” we refer to those tumors that are considered malignant. Benign tumors can usually be removed and do not spread to other parts of the body. Malignant tumors, on the other hand, grow aggressively and invade other tissues of the body, allowing entry of tumor cells into the bloodstream or lymphatic system which spread the tumor to other sites in the body.

This process of spread is termed metastasis; the areas of tumor growth at these distant sites are called metastases. Since lung cancer tends to spread, or metastasize, very early in its course, it is a very life-threatening cancer and one of the most difficult cancers to treat. While lung cancer can spread to any organ in the body, certain organs – particularly the adrenal glands, liver, brain, and bone - are the most common sites for lung cancer metastasis.

The lung is also a very common site for metastasis from tumors in other parts of the body. Tumor metastases are made up of the same type of cells as the original, or primary, tumor. For example, if prostate cancer spreads via the bloodstream to the lungs, it is metastatic prostate cancer in the lung and is not lung cancer.

In its early stages, lung cancer usually does not cause symptoms. When symptoms occur, the cancer is often advanced. Symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • Chronic cough
  • Hoarseness
  • Coughing up blood
  • Weight loss & loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever without a known reason
  • Wheezing
  • Repeated bouts of bronchitis or pneumonia
  • Chest pain

These conditions are also symptomatic of many other lung problems, so a person who has any of these symptoms should see a doctor to find out the cause. When a person goes for an exam, the doctor ask many questions about the person's medical history, including questions about the patient's exposure to hazardous substances. The doctor will also give the patient a physical exam.

If the patient has a cough that produces a sputum (mucus), it may be examined for cancer cells. The doctor will order a chest X-ray or specialized X-ray such as the CT scan, which help to locate any abnormal spots in the lungs. The doctor may insert a small tube called a bronchoscope through the nose or mouth and down the throat, to look inside the airways and lungs and take a sample, or biopsy, of the tumor. This is just one of several ways in which a doctor may take a biopsy sample.

The doctor will decide which treatment you will receive based on factors such as the type of lung cancer, the size, location and extent of the tumor (whether or not it has spread), and your general health. There are many treatments, which may be used alone or in combination. These include:

Surgery may cure lung cancer. It is used in limited stages of the disease. The type of surgery depends on where the tumor is located in the lung. Some tumors cannot be removed because of their size or location.

Radiation therapy is a form of high energy X-ray that kills cancer cells. It is used:

In combination with chemotherapy and sometimes with surgery. To offer relief from pain or blockage of the airways.

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs that are effective against cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be injected directly into a vein or given through a catheter, which is a thin tube that is placed into a large vein and kept there until it is no longer needed. Some chemotherapy drugs are taken by pill.

Chemotherapy may be used:

  • In conjunction with surgery.
  • In more advanced stages of the disease to relieve symptoms.
  • In all stages of small cell cancer.
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