Know Your Disease

Lung Cancer

Basics of Lung Cancer

Uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in one or both lungs is known as lung cancer. The lungs are responsible for supplying oxygen to the body, and these abnormal cells interfere with the function of healthy lung tissue. This usually begins in the airway lining.

Lung cancer is the most common cancer in Indian men, says the lung cancer doctor in Kolkata. The condition of most of the patients present is at an advanced stage.


The classification of lung cancer based on the biological behaviour and the purpose of treatment, as listed by the lung cancer specialist in Kolkata, is follows:

  • Non-small-cell carcinoma – These include squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, large cell carcinoma, bronchoalveolar cell carcinoma, etc.
  • Small-cell carcinoma – also called oat cell carcinoma due to the shape of the cell. Unfortunately, it spreads early and causes a few early symptoms.

What Causes Lung Cancer

  • Smoking (causes about 90% of lung cancers)
  • Contact with asbestos, steel, nickel, chrome and coal gas processing
  • Exposure to radiation (miners of uranium, hematite, fluorspar may be exposed to radiation inhaled air contaminated with radon gas


The symptoms of lung cancer are vague and overlap with infectious conditions and other benign diseases. In some cases, symptoms are diagnosed during regular health check-ups (X-ray screening removes lung lesions) by the lung cancer oncologists in Kolkata.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Cough that does not go away or changes to a severe cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Bloody sputum
  • Chest pain
  • High fever
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Frequent fever due to pneumonia
  • Bronchitis
  • Difficulty swallowing

There may also be symptoms that are not related to the lungs. This can be caused by the spread of lung cancer to other parts of the body.

Treatment Options

The main treatments for lung cancer are surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. The choice of treatment will depend on the type of lung cancer, the stage of the disease, whether your lungs are functioning properly, your general health and what you want.


If your cancer has not spread to the same side of the affected lung and mediastinum, your general health is reasonably good, and your ability to breathe is sufficient, the best treatment offering is surgery. This includes removing all parts of the lungs affected by the
disease or with affected lymph nodes. Lung removal surgery can be performed either by opening the chest cavity (open approach) or by keyhole surgery (minimal access approach), i.e., by video-assisted thoroscopic surgery (VAT) or by robot-assisted thoracic surgery (RATS) approach, explains the lung cancer surgeon in Kolkata.

Lobectomy: It is most commonly performed for lung cancer, which involves removing the affected part of the lung.

Pneumonectomy: A surgery where the entire lung on the affected side is removed.

Sleeve Research: It is a complex process aimed at preserving the functional lungs as normal as possible. Only part of the airway affected by cancer is removed along with the lung tissue. The rest of the lungs then reconnect to the rest of the airways.

Anatomy / Wedge Resection: Depending on the extent of the cancer, the surgeon may determine the size of the lung lobe by taking only one part of the lung lobe. It is usually performed for the purpose of obtaining tissue for diagnosis or to remove cancerous tissue in weak patients who will not tolerate lobectomy.

Chest Wall Resection: In some cases, if lung cancer affects the thoracic ribs or muscles in the continuum of the main tumour, it may need to be removed. Defects created in the chest are then filled using synthetic materials such as mesh and bone cement, using meat and muscle.

Diagnostic Thoracoscopy: This allows the doctor to look inside the chest and take tissue samples for biopsy if necessary.

Mediastinoscopy: When mediastinum tumours appear suspicious, but have not been properly identified as a shelter disease by EBUS, it may be necessary to perform a surgical excision of these tumours to better bring out the nature of the affected lesion.


This is the treatment of cancer with anti-cancer drugs. The goal is to destroy cancer cells while damaging normal cells as little as possible. Drugs work by preventing cancer cells from multiplying. Chemotherapy is the treatment of choice for patients with small cell carcinoma. In non-small cell carcinoma, to increase the chances of cure, you can also do chemotherapy after surgery to remove the cancer. This is called ‘adjuvant’ chemotherapy.

Radiation Therapy

This treatment uses high-energy radiation beams to destroy the cancer cells and shrink the tumours. New technologies of intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT) ensure maximum volume of tumours, protecting normal undeveloped
organs from adverse effects. There is also gated radiation therapy, where a lung tumour is targeted at a specific stage of the breathing cycle.

Targeted Therapy / Immunotherapy

In some people, non-smokers are generally suited to a new class of drugs designed to deal with specific weaknesses of cancer cells or surrounding supporting tissues, such as blood vessels.

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