Non-small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)

Understanding Non-small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)

Non-small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for about 85 percent of lung cancer cases. It's a term used to describe several types, including squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large-cell carcinoma. As the name implies, these cells are larger than small cell lung cancer cells.

NSCLC is most often diagnosed in older people who have a long history of smoking. While some cases occur in people who have never smoked, these are not as common. People who have been exposed to second hand smoke, asbestos, air pollution, and other environmental factors may also be at an increased risk of developing NSCLC.

The main goal of treatment is to eradicate the cancer. Depending on the stage of the cancer, treatment could involve surgery, a combination of targeted therapy, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, or a combination of these. Treatments are designed to stop the growth of cancer cells and reduce the risk of it spreading to other areas of the body. It’s important to note that treatment may have varying success for different individuals, depending on the severity of the cancer.

Signs and Symptoms of NSCLC

The signs and symptoms of NSCLC vary depending on the type and stage of the cancer. Common symptoms include:

  • A persistent cough or hoarseness
  • A constant chest infection
  • Coughing up blood
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in the chest or shoulder
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss

Diagnosis of NSCLC

If your doctor suspects that you may have NSCLC, they will refer you for a variety of tests and procedures. These tests will help them to determine the type and stage of the cancer, and plan the best course of treatment. Tests and procedures include:

  • Blood tests
  • Biopsy
  • Imaging tests – X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and PET scans
  • Bronchoscopy – a procedure to examine your airways
  • Endoscopic ultrasound – a procedure to get a better look at tissues deep in the chest
  • Thoracentesis – a procedure to collect fluid from the pleural cavity for testing

Living with NSCLC

Living with NSCLC can be a difficult and challenging experience. It’s important to find support and create a good relationship with your healthcare team. This will help you stay on top of treatments and monitor any side effects. You should also pay close attention to your diet and exercise habits, and make sure you get enough rest and relaxation. Finally, make sure to take advantage of support networks and other resources available for people living with NSCLC.