Lung cancer is a chronic disease that occurs in a person’s lungs. The human lungs are a pair of sponge-like organs in the chest, which takes oxygen when you inhale oxygen. Similarly, it expels carbon dioxide whenever you exhale. Lung cancer occurs when there is a change in the genetic structure of the cells in the lungs. They start to grow and rapidly divide uncontrollably. The abnormal cells then begin to affect the healthy ones and accumulate to form a tumor. Within a short time, they spread to other parts of the body. The common symptoms of lung cancer are persistent cough, breathing difficulties, chest pains, and headaches.
Dr. Paolo Boffetta – What kind of treatments do doctors prescribe for lung cancer patients?
Dr. Paolo Boffetta is an epidemiologist from Italy who specializes in cancer research. He has a wealth of experience spanning over 30 years. He has written numerous research papers explaining how this chronic disease spreads rapidly. He is a member of the editorial board of several prominent scientific journals. These include Annals of Oncology, Cancer Discovery, Disease Markers, Frontiers in Molecular Epidemiology, and Cancer Medicine. He has the privilege of working in many of the world’s leading cancer research institutions. These include the German Cancer Research Centre, America Cancer Society, Karolinska Institute, IARC, and US National Cancer Institute. Currently, he holds the post of Director at the Institute for Translational Epidemiology in America.
He says doctors diagnosing patients suffering from lung cancer insist they take a series of tests. These could include a chest x-ray, biopsy, PET CT scan, sputum cytology, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The tests enable the doctors to get an insight into the cellular composition of the tumors. They can then determine what stage of cancer their patients are in. Accordingly, they can customize their patients’ treatment plans using any combination of the following methods:
- Surgical operations to extract the cancerous tumor from the patients’ lungs,
- Radiation therapy to kill all the cancer cells in their using radioactive proton energy rays,
- Chemotherapy to destroy the remaining cancer cells which surgery could not remove,
- Targeted therapy which involves using drugs to identify and eradicate the cancer cells, and
- Immunotherapy where patients take medicines to strengthen their immune system to deal with the cancer cells, and
- Stereotactic body radiotherapy where numerous high-intensity radiation beams attack the cancer cells from different angles,
Doctors generally appoint palliative caregivers to look after the patients immediately after their treatments. This is necessary to make them comfortable and minimize any side effects they might be experiencing.
As summed up by Paolo Boffetta doctors customize their patients’ treatment plans according to their specific needs. They conduct medical tests to determine the cellular composition of the tumor in their patients’ lungs. These include chest x-rays, PET scans, biopsies, sputum cytology, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Then insist they undergo any one or combination of the common lung-cancer treatments. These are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, or stereotactic body radiotherapy. After the treatments, the doctor assigns palliative caregivers to manage any discomfort or side effects of the above treatments.