What is Lung Cancer

What is Lung Cancer?


Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women globally. Lung cancer starts when otherwise healthy cells become abnormal and begin to grow out of control. Lung cancer can start in any part of the lung or airways – the so called respiratory system.

 There are two main types of lung cancer:


- Non-small cell lung cancer, which represents more than 85% of all lung cancer diagnosis;

- Small cell lung cancer. 




The early stage of lung cancer is often asymptomatic, which means that lung cancer often isn’t detected or diagnosed until it reaches an advanced stage. Common symptoms include:


- A cough that won’t go away;

- Change in a cough you’ve had for a while;

- Shortness of breath;

- Coughing up blood;

- Chest ache or shoulder ache (dull or sharp);

- Loss of appetite;

- Weight loss;

- Fatigue;

- Persistent chest infections


If you are worried, wish to meet with a specialist or want to schedule a health check-up, please don’t hesitate to contact us or make an appointment. At Khema International Polyclinic, we currently have on offer health screening packages that include chest x-ray and other types of screening.


Risk Factors


            - Biological:

o   Age: most people who are diagnosed with lung cancer are 75 years and above;

o   Family history: if you have close relatives who have been diagnosed by lung cancer, you may be at a higher risk of developing it too;

o   History of other lung diseases: if you have suffered from other lung diseases, e.g. tuberculosis, then you are at higher risk of also developing lung cancer;

o   History of other forms of cancer: if you have been diagnosed with another form of cancer in the past, then you are also more at risk of developing lung cancer;

o   Weakened immune system: if you have a compromised immune system, you are also at a higher risk of developing lung cancer.


            - Non-biological:

o   Approximately 85% of all lung cancer diagnosis can be trace back to smoking;

o   Exposure to certain chemicals in the workspace;

o   Exposure to radon gas




Your doctor will perform a complete physical exam, including blood works, carefully take your and your family’s medical history and order a chest x-ray. If something suspicious is found, further testing will be required , such as a CT scan, MRI scan, PET scan and a bone scan. If these tests suggest lung cancer, a final diagnosis will be made by looking at extracted lung cells under a microscope.

If you have been diagnosed with lung cancer, your doctor will discuss with you your prognosis, and possible treatment options. Treatment options available to you will depend on the stage of the cancer, your age, health condition and likelihood of treatment success. Treatment options include:


- Chemotherapy;

- Radiation therapy;

 - Surgery.


Prevention That You Can Do


Although not all forms of lung cancer can be prevented, there are some steps you can take today to reduce the risk if getting lung cancer.


- Don’t start smoking tobacco/stop smoking tobacco: The best way to reduce lung cancer risk is to never start smoking tobacco. The great majority of lung cancer diagnosis can be traced back to tobacco smoke. You should also try to avoid second-hand smoke, e.g. inhaling the smoke when other people smoke around you.

       If you are a smoker, then you should try to quit or seek help to quit. If you stop smoking before

       cancer develops, damaged lung tissue will begin to repair itself 

- Keeping healthy , regular physical exercise, a diet low in saturated fat and high in vegetable and fruit may help to keep lung cancer away.