Lung cancer is one of the most prevalent and deadly forms of cancer worldwide. It is a complex disease that affects the lungs, impairing their ability to function effectively, and easily spreads to different parts of the body.
Lung cancer arises when abnormal cells grow uncontrollably in the lungs, resulting in the formation of tumors. These tumors can interfere with breathing, hinder oxygen exchange, and spread to other body parts through the bloodstream or lymphatic system. The two major types of lung cancer are non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). NSCLC is the most common, comprising around 85% of all lung cancer cases, while SCLC is less common but more aggressive.
As per the World Health Organization, lung cancer is responsible for the most cancer-related deaths worldwide. In 2020, there were an estimated 2.2 million new cases of lung cancer and 1.8 million deaths, accounting for approximately 11.4% of all cancer cases and 18.0% of cancer-related deaths worldwide.
In the UAE, lung cancer is a significant health concern. With increasing urbanization and lifestyle changes, the incidence of Lung cancer has been rising in recent years. According to the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention, Lung cancer is the third most common cancer in the country, following breast and colorectal cancer. Previously reported trends suggested that lung cancer cases in the UAE are primarily diagnosed in males, and it is closely linked to smoking.
Although smoking is the leading cause and risk factor of lung cancer, other risk factors also play a role in its development. These include:
The symptoms of lung cancer differ depending on the type of cancer, its stage, and the tumor's location within the lungs. In its early stages, lung cancer may not cause noticeable symptoms, making early detection challenging. However, as the disease progresses, the following symptoms may manifest:
It is crucial to remember that these symptoms can also indicate other respiratory conditions or health issues. However, if any of these symptoms persist for weeks or worsen, it’s important to seek medical attention for a thorough evaluation.
When a person presents with symptoms suggestive of lung cancer, a series of diagnostic tests and procedures are undertaken to confirm the diagnosis and determine the stage of the disease.
A lung cancer diagnosis can be emotionally challenging for the patient and their loved ones. In addition to medical support, psychological and emotional support during the diagnostic process is essential.
Treatment depends on various factors, including the type of lung cancer, its stage, the overall health of the patient, and the presence of specific genetic mutations. The primary treatment options for lung cancer include:
Patients must discuss their treatment options thoroughly with their healthcare team to understand potential benefits and risks of each approach.
Preventing lung cancer primarily involves adopting a healthy lifestyle and avoiding exposure to risk factors. This comprises quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke, adopting a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and engaging in regular physical activity. Raising awareness about early detection and seeking medical attention for persistent respiratory symptoms is also crucial. Regular health check-ups can aid in the timely identification of lung cancer, increasing the chances of successful treatment.