What is Lung Cancer? Risk factors, signs and symptoms, conventional and complementary/supportive treatment options.
What is lung cancer?
Lung cancer is when the malignant cells grow inside the lung tissue and can destroy and expand into the surrounding tissues which leads to primary lung cancer.
The lung cancer grows into either non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer based on the type of cells that cancer has started.
Non-small cell cancer can be separated into a few categories:
-Adenocarcinoma starts in the glandular cells on the outer part of the lung.
-Squamous cell carcinoma can start in flat, thin cells called squamous cells that line the large airways which branch into the windpipe.
There are a few less common non-small cell lung cancers that are:
-Large cell carcinoma
Small-cell cancer usually starts in the cells that cover the lining of the bronchi in the centre of the lung. The two major types of small-cell lung cancers are:
-Combined small-cell carcinoma which is mixed tumors with squamous or glandular cells.
If the cancer spreads to the lung from other tissues it is no longer called primary lung cancer instead it is called lung metastasis.
Sign and Symptoms:
At the beginning, lung cancer may not show any signs and symptoms. It is usually after the tumour grows and creates changes in the body that signs and symptoms appear.
Although other health conditions may show similar symptoms of lung cancer, however, any/few or all of the signs below must be monitored and taken seriously:
1-Ongoing cough that gets worse in time
2-Constant chest pain worse by deep breaths or coughs
3-Blood in mucus produced by coughs
4-Repeated chest infections like bronchitis and pneumonia
5-Shortness of breath
8-Unusual weight loss
9-Hoarseness and other changes in the voice
11-enlarged lymph nodes in the neck area and above the collarbone
12-build-up of fluids around the lungs
According to Canadian Cancer Society there are known and possible risk factors that can contribute to the occurence of lung cancer.
The known factors are:
Beta carotene supplements in smokers
Possible risk factors are:
A diet low in vegetables and fruit
There are different methods of diagnosis of lung cancer by conventional medicine, a few of these methods are:
1-Physical exam and health history of the patient and family health history
2-Complete blood test to measure the quality and quantity of white and red blood cells and platelets.
3-Blood chemistry test, which tests certain chemicals in the blood and determines the abnormalities in the function of certain organs.
4-X-ray which is normally the first imaging process
5-CT scan or computed tomography scan that shows the 3D and cross sectional images of organs, bones and inside the blood vessels inside the body and can show the size and location and shape of the tumour.
6-PET scans or positron emission tomography, it is the use of radioactive material to see the changes of metabolic activity of the body tissues.
7-MRI also known as magnetic resonance imaging, which is a method of using magnetic forces and radiofrequency waves to make cross-sectional images of different organs, tissues, bones and blood vessels.
8-Ultrasound is used to look for build of fluids around the lungs by using high frequency sound waves to build images of structural changes in the body.
9-Biopsy is the removal of the cell or part of the tissue from the body to be tested in the lab for abnormalities.
10-Endoscopy, which is the use of a long tube with a light and a lens at the end so the doctor can see how far the cancer has spread.
The factors that can affect the prognosis:
-The later stages have poorer prognosis.
-The type and number of metastases
-Weight loss and the general status of the immune system
-Performance Status score, or the ability to carry on the daily tasks.
-Sex: Women in general have a slightly better prognosis than men
-Previous lung problems: people with existing issues such as collapsed lungs, fluid build up around the lungs and lung infections have poorer prognosis
Conventionally the following methods are used for treatment according to allopathic medicine:
1-Surgery: depending on the type of cancer and how healthy the patient is the surgery involves removal of the tumour along with the part of healthy lung tissue, removal of an entire lobe (lobectomy) or removal of the entire lung (pneumonectomy), removal of muscles, nerves and tissues near the lung (extended pulmonary resections), chest wall resection, and removal of the tumour from the large airways of the lung called bronchus along with part of the surrounding healthy tissue also known as sleeve resection.
2-Radiation that can be external or internal radiation. External radiation is when the non-small cell cancer can’t be treated with surgery or sometimes it is given after the surgery in stage 3 cancer. Sometimes radiation is combined with chemotherapy, which is called chemoradiation. The internal radiation is called brachytherapy when the radioactive material is placed directly into the tumour or very close to it.
3-Chemotherapy, can be used before or after surgery or as the main treatment of the non-small cell cancer. It is usually a combination of two drugs. Sometimes chemotherapy is used as a maintenance program to slow down or stop the cancer from coming back.
4-Chemoradiation, combination of chemo and radiation during the same period. It is often used for non-small cell cancer.
5-Targeted therapy is when the cancer has spread to lymph nodes and other parts of the body, then specific drugs are used to target the affected areas.
6-Immunotherapy is used when chemo and radiation have failed in advance cases, specific drugs are used when all else fails.
Endobronchial treatment is used inside the bronchi to remove the blockages and reduce the symptoms such as coughing up blood, problems with breathing and pain. It is used in cases when surgery is not possible.
Supportive care before, during and after cancer treatments hold significance for the person who is suffering from the disease as well as the immediate surrounding loved ones. These cares can help both the patient and the loved ones cope better with the shift in lifestyle, activities, diets, spiritual, mental and emotional struggles during this journey. Most of the supportive cares can improve the quality of life for the patient whether the treatments were successful or not. The followings are a few examples of the supportive care:
Homeopathy is a system of medicine which looks at the person with the disease in its entirely. It is a complete and individual system which gathers all the symptoms (physical, mental and emotional) and by finding a common thread throughout the physical, mental and emotional state of the individual that is specific to the individual, reaches a homeopathically prepared medicine that matches the picture of that person and all of his/her symptoms at the given time. The remedies are energetic resonances that are sourced from nature (minerals, plants or animals). They help the body’s own ability to heal to shift from the state of dis-ease to a relatively healthier state. Homeopathy can support the patient with cancer during and after treatments with the side effects of the conventional treatments. It is also a powerful system of medicine to improve the quality of life of the person before, during and after the treatments.
Nutritional support and protocols:
The type and quality of the food intake by the patient is extremely important. An individual food and nutritional protocol based on the person who has the disease can support him/her during this journey. Followings are a few general recommendations that are important to consider:
-Alkalinizing the body’s environment. Cancer cells can’t survive in alkaline environment.
-Alkaline water, Plant based organic, non-processed and non-GMO foods must become part of the daily regime.
-Avoid alcohol, sugar (especially processed sugar), animal products (for the most part), dairy, smoking tobacco and other smoking herbs and white processed flour.
Immune modulating teas spices and herbs:
-Chaga/Reishi/Cordyceps mushrooms after the radiation and chemo can bring immune system back to strength.
-Turmeric has an active ingredient called Curcumin which is a powerful anti-inflammatory and cancer fighting agent.
-Other important spices and herbs are Cayenne and Oregano
-ESSIAC tea. (Consult your holistic health practitioner for more detail on this)
For more detailed and individual nutritional protocols consult your holistic health care practitioner.
Vitamins and supplements:
Vitamins C, B and D are important immune modulators.
Vitamin B17 is found in apricot and apple seeds, they can breakdown the cancer cells.
Antioxidants through high graded supplements or fruits and vegetables especially dark colored fruits and veggies such as berries, beats and dark leafy greens.
High grade CBD oil, although very controversial I suggest to do a research before deciding. www.projectcbd.org contains informative research results. Also a book by John Hicks, MD called “The Medicinal Power of Cannabis” holds great information on CBD.
For more detailed and individual protocol consult your holistic health practitioner.
Meditation has been known to release stress and bring our focus back into the present. One of the main causes of manifestation of cancer is stress. Daily stress can weaken our immune system and a weak immune system can open the door for creation of perfect environment for cancer cells to grow in our body. Guided meditations are recommended over the non-guided meditations.
Reiki is a natural healing modality that originated in Japan. Reiki uses energy to support the body's own healing ability. It can reduce stress, anxiety, depression and pain which are common experiences of many people and especially those who are on a cancer journey.
Important: This article for information purpose only. YOU MUST consult your physician or health care practitioner before using any supportive modality. This supportive modalities are not alternative or replacement therapies and MUST not replace the MEDICAL PROTOCOLS instructed by your physician.
To make an appointment for more specific and individual consultation call Sara Namazi at 604-360-1215 or email firstname.lastname@example.org