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Being diagnosed with lung cancer is a life-altering scenario. In the United States, it is the leading cause of death among the different types of cancer, and is the second most common type found in both men and women. This type of cancer is generally diagnosed around the age of 70. The most common type of lung cancer is non-small cell lung cancer, and patients have a good chance of beating the disease if the cancer is detected early. Because of the disease’s differences and the varying treatment options available in the United States, it is important for diagnosed individuals to learn about the facts about lung cancer.
Differences in Treatment Options
Studies in the treatment of cancer have found that options vary across the United States. For example, in New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Utah, options for surgery account for approximately 75 percent of cases. However, in other states like Wyoming, the same treatments are seen roughly 25 percent of the time. This means that there is no uniformed quality of healthcare in the United States. States that are home to primary cancer treatment centers generally had higher rates for surgical options. Therefore, geographical location can have a significant impact on how people fight the condition. Understanding the treatment options, even if it requires obtaining different opinions, can expand the alternatives on how to treat the diagnosis.
Lung Cancer Surgery
Surgery is a common option that individuals and doctors select to combat cancer. This technique can be used alone or combined with other techniques such as chemotherapy or radiation. Medical experts recommend these procedures to shrink tumors before performing surgery. Furthermore, after a surgery, these practices may also help eliminate remaining cancer cells. Among the types of surgeries that experts perform are Wedge Resection, which is the removal of the tumor and an additional piece of the lung surrounding the tumor, Lobectomy, which is the practice of removing the lobe of the lung affected by the disease, Segmentectomy, which is the partial removal of the lobe, and Pneumonectomy, which is the removal of the lung. Doctors also remove and check lymph nodes to determine if the cancer has spread to other places.
The different types of cancers lead surgeons to change the way they perform surgeries to account for the differences. For example, doctors use thoracotomy to make incisions underneath the shoulder blade and below the nipple to remove the lung. However, there are minimally invasive surgeries that do not require such incisions. Video-assisted thoracic surgery is a technique used for removing lobes where a small incision is made to insert a tube with a camera into the chest area. The camera allows surgeons to look at imagines as the surgery is performed. Alternatively, medical experts can use robotic-assisted techniques that are also less invasive. This technique combines the video-assisted methods with the use of a robotic hand controlled by surgeons in a control room. Although surgery is a good option, recovery can be hard and make take weeks or months. Furthermore, complications like allergic reactions, bleeding, clots, infections, and pneumonia are possible.
The human body is designed to recognize threats and to act quickly to avoid such threats from causing harm. This is done via the body’s immune system. Cancer changes the body’s reaction because the disease tricks the body where the immune system does not see cancer as a threat and does not attack the cells. Immunotherapy, however, helps the body by helping the immune system recognize the threat and boosts its ability to respond adequately. The results of the therapy have produced excellent results, where the survival rates for patients that undergo the treatment are significantly higher.
The idea of immunotherapy is to use checkpoint inhibitors. These checkpoints are used by the body to prevent the immune systems from attacking healthy cells. Some cancers can manipulate these checkpoints, thus preventing bad cells from being eliminated by the body’s natural response mechanism. New drugs, however, can turn off these checkpoints, thus causing the immune system to respond to cancer cells. One of the effective immunotherapy options includes patients that have tumors that over-express the PD-L1 protein. Drugs such as Nivolumab inhibit the tumor cells from manipulating the body’s T-cells and is used in patients that are not responding to chemotherapy. However, as research progresses, other drugs are developed that use similar concepts. One such example is drugs that use CTLA-4 inhibitors to look for and actively destroy cancer cells, thus improving the fight against the disease.
Targeted therapy works by using drug innovations to stop cancer cells from growing. Doctors achieve this by interfering with cancer cells, thus using options that attack proteins and receptors that the cells need to grow. These therapies have evolved with the growing understanding of the subset of genes that are drivers of cancers. As experts continue to understand mutations, they can develop more effective treatments that are less toxic. The reason that this treatment is important to lung cancer patients is that a large percentage of these individuals are diagnosed in stage 4. This means that the disease has already spread past the lungs and patients cannot undergo surgery. Before therapies that specifically targeted certain gene mutations, individuals were treated with the same approach; therefore, survival rates were incredibly low.
In the past decade, an understanding of the genetic alterations in cancer cells has helped scientists understand how a tumor behaves. This understanding has provided patients with specific treatment options that directly target the mutations, thus improving results and subsequent survival rates. Experts suggest that about a quarter of patients have lung cancer with a genetic mutation that can be targeted with medication, thus extending quality of life and life expectancy of those receiving the new treatment options. Of course, this is given that the treatment options no longer use highly toxic alternatives that cannot differentiate between good and bad cells.
Unfortunately, these options present some issues. In more than half of patients that experience a relapse, cancer will stop responding to the targeted therapy because of resistance that the cells develop due to mutations. Therefore, the scientific community and medical professionals still have a lot of work ahead in the development of treatment options. However, as knowledge on cells and their behavior continues to expand and funding for research continues to fuel scientific inquiry, the quality of care and life expectancy will continue to improve.
It is important for those diagnosed with lung cancer to understand that they are not alone and that a positive outlook can help create the mental toughness needed to combat the condition. As individuals look for treatment centers across Florida, they can enjoy the different places to see on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Fuel the desire to fight with the positives that the world has to offer. Do not just visit a city for a treatment option. Instead, while heading to Seattle for treatment, also look to enjoy the Pacific Northwest by checking Hotels in North Bend, OR and living the experience that drives the desire to fight. Those individuals convinced that the diagnosis is just a temporary condition that will be defeated have already won the first battle. Now it’s time to place trust in the medical community and the countless hours of research and development that have helped millions of people worldwide enjoy the sunrise of the next day.