Cancer has a reputation as being horrendous . Not without reason either. Cancer is a disease that has not yet fully given way to the intelligence of medical scientists and doctors . Also , as if the pain caused by the disease is not enough, the treatment for cancer, too, inflicts heavy suffering on the body.
Cancer is a disease characterized by abnormal and uncontrolled cell division. It spreads in the body and destroys tissues when the cancer cells travel through the blood stream or the lymphatic system. Cancer is caused by mutations to the DNA in the cells which makes the cells unable to control cell division. This mutation can be either acquired or inherited . The cancer mortality rate is conditional upon the type of cancer and where it develops.
Among cancers, lung cancer is the biggest killer, causing up to 3 million deaths each year around the world . It affects the 50 and above age group population most and is one of the most common types of cancers that occur in the Western countries. Smoking is the main risk factor for lung cancer. Cigarettes , especially, contains several carcinogens. It is estimated that 80 per cent of all lung cancers are caused by smoking. The role of passive smoking in producing lung cancer is also being recognized by studies.
Another carcinogen that could cause lung cancer is asbestos. In mesothelioma asbestos lung cancer or asbestos cancer, malignant cells develop in the pleura, the outer lining of the lungs and the chest cavity.
Diagnosis is difficult with mesothelioma cancer. One reason is that the symptoms of mesothelioma cancer occur only 30-50 years after the exposure to asbestos. Second, the symptoms of asbestos lung cancer, such as shortness of breath and chest pain, looks the same as those of many other medical conditions.
The report of mesothelioma asbestos lung cancer has climbed in the last two decades. This type of cancer still is thought of as a relatively rare form of lung cancer, because the incidence rate is only 1 per 1,000,000 people. In contrast, the incidence of lung cancer is 1,000 per 1,000,000.
The common lung cancer treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. However, the general treatment methods have not been very successful in the case of asbestos cancer, yielding only a median survival rate of 6-12 months after the diagnosis .
Again, surgery does not have much effect on small-cell lung cancer. A treatment method for lung cancer that has become increasingly popular in recent years is radiofrequency ablation. Techniques such as this are especially effective in killing the cancerous cells inside the tumors. These cells are ‘cooked’ by inserting a small heat probe into the tumor. This technique is also non-toxic and causes very little pain for the patient.
New techniques of treatment are being developed, such as molecular targeted therapies, for lung cancer. As scientists and researchers are able to coax out more secrets from human cells, better and more effective therapies will be expected.