Health Research Top 5 questions about lung cancer

Professor Nir Peled from Herzliya Medical Center answers the most frequently asked questions about lung cancer.

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What is lung cancer?

There are several types of lung cancer, but to put in simple terms; lung cancer is an abnormal growth of cancerous cells in one or both of the lungs. Lung cancer tends to eventually spread, if not treated in time, to other parts of the body. The cancerous cells create tumours, which affect the condition of the lungs, making it harder for them to function properly.

What are the main causes of lung cancer?

The main risk factor for lung cancer is smoking, as well as passive second-hand smoking. Around 80% of lung cancer related deaths are attributed to smoking. The more a person smokes, and for a longer period of time, the higher the risk. Fortunately, smokers can still lower the risk by quitting, since the damaged lung tissue gradually repairs itself. Other causes of lung cancer include exposure to radon gas and asbestos. It is also known that people who have a family history of lung cancer are at a higher risk as well.

Can lung cancer be detected early?

Lung cancer symptoms do not often appear at an early stage of the disease.  Being aware and alert to the symptoms is important, but we also recommended that people who are at high risk of getting lung cancer to go through a series of diagnostic procedures regularly. Early detection of lung cancer enables us to start treatment at an early stage and, before the cancer starts spreading to other organs.  The recommended diagnostic procedures should include a spirometry test, ergometer test, CT scan and a specialist consultation.

What are the symptoms and signs for lung cancer?

As mentioned, the signs of lung cancer are not usually noticeable at an early stage. If you are noticing the following signs, it is important not to ignore them, and go get testes:

  • Constant chest pain that worsen when breathing

  • A cough that goes on for a long time without getting better, or getting worse, coughing blood

  • Repeated cases of pneumonia or bronchitis

  • Swelling of the neck and face

  • Shortness of breath, wheezing sound when breathing

  • Significant weight loss or lack of appetite

  • Weakness and fatigue

How is lung cancer treated?

The treatment method depends on the type of lung cancer and condition of the patient, as well as how far the cancer has spread. Surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and targeted therapy are all used to treat lung cancer. Surgery is used to remove tumours when it is possible to remove all tumours, while the other methods are used to kill the cancerous cells or stop them from growing. Most cases require a combination of several methods.

About the author:

Professor Nir Peled is an expert in Internal Medicine, Pulmonology and Medical Oncology, focusing on Personalized Medicine and Immuno-Oncology in lung cancer treatment and innovative technologies to diagnose the disease.

Content brought to you by Herzliya Medical Center.

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