Facts About Lung Cancer
At Southeast Radiation Oncology Center, we strive to provide the most efficient lung cancer treatments in Juneau, AK. The first step in battling this deadly disease is by arming yourself with knowledge; by learning more about it, you’ll be able to detect any signs of cancer and possibly even prevent it from occurring. As your trusted Juneau, AK lung cancer doctor, we’ll be glad to answer any questions you may have.
Lung cancers come in one of three different forms. These are:
• Non-small cell lung cancers, which occur in about 85 percent of lung cancers.
• Small cell lung cancers, which occur in about ten to 15 percent of lung cancers.
• Lung carcinoid tumors, which occur less than five percent of the time.
Lung cancer is the second-most common form of cancer for both men and women. In addition, it’s actually the leading cause of death for both genders. Lung cancers will claim more lives than the combined total of prostate, breast, ovarian, and colon cancers. However, there are many treatments available today, including radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and others.
CAUSES OF LUNG CANCER
Some of the most frequent causes of developing lung cancer include:
• Secondhand smoke
• Radon gas
• Air pollution
• Lung disease
• A family history of lung cancer
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF LUNG CANCER
About 25 percent of patients that are diagnosed with lung cancer won’t show any signs or symptoms of the disease beforehand. However, most patients will show a few (or many) of these following symptoms that can include:
• A persistent cough
• Coughing up blood
• Shortness of breath
• Difficulty with swallowing
• Chest pains
• Weight loss
TREATING LUNG CANCER
Lung cancer treatment varies based on the stage, location of the tumor and a variety of other factors. Before recommending a course of treatment, your physician may perform surgery to explore whether cancer has spread into different areas of the body.
If the lung cancer is in early-stage and the tumor is localized, surgery may be curative for the patient. In more advanced cases, radiation and chemotherapy may be recommended to treat the cancer. Radiation therapy treats the patient noninvasively, by using high-energy particles or waves to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy works to slow or stop the growth of cancer cells, using a combination of drugs. Different combinations of radiation and chemotherapy will vary depending on the patient’s case.
TYPES OF RADIATION THERAPY
There are varying types of external beam radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) that can be used to treat lung cancer. Before beginning this course of treatment, patients will be mapped during a simulation session, to ensure they’re receiving the most precise and accurate treatment possible. Radiotherapy is a daily treatment, and for small cell lung cancer, twice daily treatment may be recommended.
Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and Stereotactic body-radiation therapy (SBRT) are two common types of radiotherapy. You can learn more about these methods by visiting our Types of Radiation Therapy page. Other techniques that may be used for lung cancer treatment include:
• Three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3-D CRT) is a consistent and effective treatment method that creates individualized, 3D digital sets of the patient’s specific anatomy and tumor. This allows the oncologist to deliver an exact radiation dose to the lung tumor.
• Proton beam therapy is a type of external beam radiation therapy that uses proton beams at a high energy to destroy cancer cells.
PREVENTING LUNG CANCER
There are many preventative steps that you can take to decrease your chances of developing this disease. Here are some of the lifestyle changes that we recommend:
• Don’t smoke. The number one cause of lung cancer is tobacco; avoiding this bad habit will go a long way in keeping you cancer-free.
• Avoid secondhand smoking too. Even if you don’t happen to be the one that’s smoking, smoke from other sources is still capable of harming you.
• Eat a healthy diet. Doctors suggest that eating a healthy diet that’s full of fruits and vegetables will reduce the risk of developing lung cancer.
• Test your home for radon. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking; making sure that your home is radon-free may help you stave off lung cancer.
If you ever happen to need a lung cancer doctor in Soldotna, AK, we’ll always be here to help you in any way we can. Please feel free to contact us if there’s any way that we can be of service.
CARING FOR YOURSELF DURING TREATMENT
Cancer treatment can be difficult. You have many issues to cope with. Your oncology team, along with family and friends are available to help.
• Get plenty of rest during treatment, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
• Follow your doctor’s orders. Your doctor may ask you to call if you develop a fever of 101° F or higher.
• Ask if you are unsure about anything. There are no stupid questions.
• Tell your doctor about any medications, vitamins or supplements you are taking to make sure they are safe to use during radiation therapy.
• Nutrition is important. Eat a balanced diet. Let your doctor know if you have trouble swallowing, food tastes funny or you have trouble eating.
• Treat the skin exposed to radiation with special care. Wear a shirt when you’re in the sun, avoid hot or cold packs, only use lotions and ointments after checking with your doctor or nurse, and clean the area with warm water and mild soap.
LUNG CANCER RESOURCES
American Lung Association
Lung Cancer Alliance
Also see Helpful Links
*Content provided by the American Society for Radiation Oncology, www.rtanswers.org, and the American Cancer Society.