You can get rid of the disease if it is detected early. Lung cancer is unusual before the age of 40. Most people who get the disease are around 70 years.
Symptoms of lung cancer
Here are some examples of symptoms of lung cancer. You can have one or more of them:
- cough that does not pass. It can be a dry cough or bloody cough.
- breathlessness even though you have not made any effort
- wheezing or wheezing
- pain in the chest
- repeated pneumonia.
Other symptoms of lung cancer may be that you involuntarily lose weight, lose your appetite or feel unusually tired.
The symptoms can come slowly and therefore it may take some time before you perceive them as signs that you are ill. The symptoms may also be due to some other lung disease.
When and where should I seek care?
Contact a health care provider if you have symptoms that you believe may be due to lung cancer. You can contact most receptions by logging in.
It is common for the examination to begin with a body examination. Here are more tests that your doctor may need to do:
Lung X-ray and computed tomography
Pulmonary x-ray or computed tomography can show if there is cancer and whether it has spread.
Examination with bronchoscope
Bronchoscopy is a study in which the doctor places a flexible tube into the trachea to see what they look like and to be able to take samples. Before the examination, you will receive a relaxing drug and local anesthetic to reduce the reflexes to cough and vomit. Most people can go home the same day.
A cell sample may be good if bronchoscopy with sampling gave unclear results. You sit or lie down. The doctor inserts a needle through the chest to the suspected tumor, often with the aid of an X-ray on a monitor. It may feel uncomfortable but you will get local anesthesia if needed.
Sampling takes about one minute and the entire survey takes a total of five to ten minutes.
The cell sample is analyzed in a microscope to get the correct diagnosis and to get the most effective treatment possible.
Investigations if you have lung cancer
You may need to be examined more if you have lung cancer. The studies can show whether cancer has spread. For example, it may be one or more of the following studies:
- ultrasound examination of the liver
- examination with PET camera
- isotopic examination of the skeleton also called skeletal scintigraphy.
Skeletal scintigraphy means you get a syringe with a radioactive substance in your blood. Then it is possible to measure whether there are cancer cells in the skeleton.
The examinations are performed in accordance with a standardized course of care
You are offered an examination according to a standardized course of care if the doctor suspects you have lung cancer. Standardized care procedures a way of organizing the investigation so that it goes as quickly as possible. Among other things, there are times set for the surveys you may need to do.
The doctor who writes the referral tells you why you should be investigated according to a standardized course of care, what it means and when you can be told if you have cancer or not.
It is often quick to get calls for examinations in a standardized course of care. It is good if you are clear about how the staff most safely reach you so that you do not miss any time.
Treatment for lung cancer
Surgery, radiotherapy, and treatment with various drugs are common in lung cancer. The drugs are divided according to how they work. There are several different drugs within each group:
- Cytostatics inhibit cancer cells in different ways.
- Targeted drugs target cancer cells more directly to inhibit them. You are being treated as tablets or as drops in the blood.
- Immunotherapy is a drug that strengthens the immune system to make it effective against cancer. The drugs are given as a drop in the blood.
Often the treatments are combined in different ways. This depends, among other things, on what kind of lung cancer you have and how you feel.
Good to quit smoking
You who smoke have much to gain from quitting. Stop smoking completely, if you can. Otherwise, pause.
Those who are going to have surgery will recover sooner afterward.
You who are to be treated with radiation can have a more effective result.
Other treatments may also be more effective if you refrain from smoking. It also reduces the risk of you getting sick again.
Talk to your doctor if you need help to quit smoking.
Surgery about the disease is detected early
All types of lung cancer can be operated on if the disease is detected early. The type of surgery done depends on the size of the cancer tumor and wherein the lung it grows.
The lungs are divided into so-called lobes. It is often enough to remove the lobe of cancer if it is clear that cancer is only there. One such operation is called a lobectomy.
The entire lung is removed if cancer grows in more than one lobe.
Before the operation, the doctor examines the heart and lungs, among other things, to make sure that you are well enough to be able to be operated on.
After the surgery
It may vary how long you need to stay in the hospital after the operation. Some may go home after a day. Others need to stay up to a week. It depends on what type of surgery has been done and how you are doing.
It often takes at least six weeks for the body to heal. You may feel extra breathless as you exert yourself, but it usually gets better over time.
Surgery and cytostatics if the cancer tumor is large
You may need treatment for lung cancer with cytostatic drugs after surgery if the cancer tumor was large. It reduces the risk of the disease coming back, which is also called relapse.
Drugs and radiotherapy instead of surgery
Sometimes the cancerous tumor is too large to be operated on even though it is only present in the lung. Then you can get treatment with drugs and radiotherapy instead.
It is common to first receive cytostatic drugs and then radiotherapy.
Sometimes you get cytostatic drugs or some other medicine at the same time as radiation therapy.
It is common to receive radiotherapy for six to seven weeks. It varies how many times the treatment needs to be repeated during that period.
You are given medicines in conjunction with radiotherapy every day or every week or every three weeks. It depends on how the disease develops.
Drugs about cancer have spread
You can receive treatment with drugs such as cytostatic drugs, targeted drugs or immunotherapy if cancer has spread beyond the lungs.
Other treatment if the disease comes back
It is called relapse if cancer returns. Then you can also be treated with surgery, radiation or medication. Your doctor may suggest a different combination of methods than when you were first treated. It depends on how you feel and whether the cancer tumor has spread.
When the treatment is complete, you are called for post-checks. Then the doctor examines you and you are told how you feel. The lungs are examined with, for example, computer tomography or regular pulmonary x-ray.
It varies how often post-checks are needed. In the beginning, more frequent checks are common, after which they can be spilled out. Most people can quit after five years. Some need to continue longer.
If the disease is not removable
You are given the care that can curb the disease and relieve the symptoms of cancer cannot be eliminated. It is called palliative care and can do so that you can live a good life with the disease, sometimes for a long time.
Be involved and influence your care
You have the right to be involved in your care whenever possible. The healthcare staff should tell you what treatment options are available. They should make sure you understand what the different options mean, what side effects are available and where you can get treatment. This way you can help decide which treatment is right for you.
You decide on the care plan
You can make a care plan together with the contact nurse, the doctor and other staff. The care plan should answer questions that are important to you.
New medical assessment
You can get a new medical assessment if you are unsure if you are receiving the care and treatment that is best for you. You will then see another doctor, usually at another specialist clinic. Ask your doctor if you want to know more about how to get a new medical assessment.
What is lung cancer?
Lung cancer means that a cancerous tumor has formed in one of the lungs. The disease can spread to other parts of the body and form daughter tumors, also called metastases.
There are several different types of lung cancer. The most common are adenocarcinoma, squamous cell cancer, and small cell lung cancer.
Adenocarcinoma is also called glandular cancer and is the most common form of lung cancer. Cancer grows from gland cells in the lungs.
Squamous cell carcinoma
Disc epithelial cancer is the second most common form of lung cancer. It begins in the trachea that goes from the trachea to the lungs.
Small cell lung cancer
Small cell lung cancer grows rapidly and has often spread to organs outside the chest before being detected. About 15 percent of all people with lung cancer have small cell lung cancer.
What is the cause of lung cancer?
Almost all lung cancer is due to smoking. Smoking also increases the risk of getting the disease for other reasons.
Here is help to quit smoking.
Asbestos is likely to cause lung cancer but is primarily linked to lung sac cancer. Asbestos has been used as insulation and building materials in occupations such as construction workers, plumbers, electricians, and shipyard workers.
Even today, you may be exposed to asbestos if you work on demolishing, repairing or rebuilding houses built before the 1970s.
Radon and air pollution can increase the risk of lung cancer. Radon is found naturally in the bedrock and in blue concrete which was used as a building material in residential buildings until 1975.
Lung cancer can to some extent be hereditary but it is not completely proven.
Getting a sick message
There are many ways to respond to a cancer message. You may need plenty of time to talk to your doctor and other healthcare professionals about what the message means. If possible, please let a relative accompany you. The related person can act as a support and help to remember what has been said.
You have the right to understand
You can also ask to have the information written down so you can read it peacefully. Ask questions if you don’t understand. You have the right to receive information in your own language. .
In many hospitals, there are special nurses called contact nurses who can provide support and also help with various practical things.
For many, it usually feels easier once treatment has begun and they know what is going to happen.
You can get support in several places
The contact nurse or the hospital’s curator can help you if you need to talk more or have questions.
You can contact Cancer Counseling, the Cancer Foundation or, for example, a patient association. The lung cancer association is for those who have or have had lung cancer or who are related.
Here you will find contact information and read more about how you can get advice and support in cancer.
Children also need to know
A minor child has the right to receive information and support based on his or her own needs if a relative is ill. It is the responsibility of care. If you want to tell the child yourself, you can get help with what you have to say. Often it is good to make children as involved as possible, no matter how big or small they are. That doesn’t mean you have to tell everything.
How is life affected by lung cancer?
The respiratory function may be impaired after surgery or if you have received radiation therapy. It can affect your fitness. It is still good if you move as much as you can. You can get advice from a physiotherapist or physiotherapist.
There are medicines that can improve your respiratory function if you need it.
Life can feel different after treatment for lung cancer. You always have the experience of what you have been with. It can be painful periodically, but usually, it gets better. Sometimes it can take time. Some feel vulnerable and worried long after treatment is over.
Sometimes it can be difficult to be close to someone who is ill. Maybe you want to give support while you have a strong concern and feel bad. It is very common to do so.
If you have other people in your area, try letting them support you. It can be family members, friends or acquaintances. Often it will be easier for them to help you if you tell them how it feels and shows if you are worried or sad.
You can get help from the contact nurse or a curator at the hospital if you are close and need supportive calls.
Here you can read more about being related to cancer.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Avoid pregnancy if you are being treated for cancer, regardless of your gender. Some treatments can be harmful to a fetus.
Talk to your doctor about which birth control is appropriate.
Talk to your doctor before starting treatment if you want to try to get pregnant or use your sperm in pregnancy when you are finished.
Read more in the text Fertility after cancer treatment.
Treatment for cancer if you are already pregnant
You can be examined and receive treatment even if you are pregnant. Sometimes care may need to be adapted in different ways.
Radiation examinations and treatments need to be replaced by other methods, or done later, or in a way that protects the fetus.
You can operate. You can receive cytostatic treatment after pregnancy in week 14.
Pregnancy does not affect the disease. Cancer cannot be transmitted to the fetus.
It is only if the cancer is growing rapidly or if it is early in pregnancy that the doctor sometimes recommends that you abort the pregnancy. It is you who decides.
You will be contacted by specialist maternity care.
Talk to your doctor if you want to breastfeed.