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Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is one of the most common and serious types of cancer with 47,000 people being diagnosed with the condition every year in the UK.

Lung cancer can either be of primary nature where the cancer begins in the lungs or, alternatively, it spreads into the lungs from another cancer and this is known as secondary lung cancer.

There are two types of primary lung cancer and are classified by the type of cells in which the cancer starts.

They are:

  • Non-small-cell lung cancer: The most common type, accounting for more than 80% of cases and can either be squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma or large-cell carcinoma.
  • Small-cell lung cancer: A less common type that usually spreads a lot faster than the above.

The type of lung cancer you have determines which treatments are recommended.

Who’s affected?

  • Mainly affects older people
  • Rare in people younger than 40
  • Most commonly diagnosed in people over 75

Symptoms

  • A cough that doesn’t go away for two to three weeks
  • A cough that gets worse
  • Persistent chest infections
  • An ache or pain when breathing or coughing
  • Persistent breathlessness
  • Persistent tiredness or a lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss.

Less common symptoms

  • Changes in the appearance of the fingers-they start to appear more curved and the ends become larger.
  • High temperature
  • Pain or difficulty when swallowing
  • Wheezing
  • A hoarse voice
  • Swelling of the face or neck
  • Persistent chest or shoulder pain

It must be noted that many of these symptoms do not necessarily indicate lung cancer.

Causes

As expected, smoking is the biggest risk factor associated with lung cancer and is responsible for more than 70% of all cases. This is because Tabaco smoke contains more than 60 different toxic substances which can lead to the development of cancer. These substances are known to be carcinogenic (cancer-producing). It has been held that if you smoke 25 cigarettes per day, you are 25 times more likely to get lung cancer than a non-smoker. Other types of Tabaco products can also increase the risk of developing other types of cancer such as oesophageal cancer and mouth cancer.

These products include

  • Cigars
  • Pipe Tabaco
  • Snuff
  • Chewing Tabaco

Passive smoking

Passive smoking is the frequent exposure to other people’s Tabaco smoke and it can increase your risk of developing lung cancer.

 

Radon

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes from tiny amounts of uranium present in all rocks and soils. Radon can also be found in buildings.

If breathed in, this gas can damage your lungs, particularly if you are a smoker. Radon causes a small number of lung cancer deaths in England every year.

Occupational exposure and pollution

Exposure to certain chemicals and substances used in several occupations and industries have been linked to an increase in the risk of developing lung cancer. Chemicals and substances such as arsenic, asbestos, beryllium, cadmium, coal and coke fume, silica and nickel have all been linked to lung cancer when one has worked with them over a period of time. It has also been reported that exposure to large amounts of diesel fumes for many years may increase the risk of developing lung cancer by up to 50% and the risk is also increased by 1/3 if you live in an area with high levels of nitrogen oxide gases which are produced by cars and other vehicles.

Treatment

As aforementioned, the treatment you may require depends non the type of cancer you have as well as how far it has spread if at all and how good your general health is.  If the condition is diagnosed early and the cancerous cells are confined to a small area, surgery to remove the affected area of lung is usually the best treatment.

If in the unfortunate event that surgery is unsuitable due to your general health, radiotherapy to destroy the cancerous cells may be recommended instead.  If the cancer has spread too far for surgery or radiotherapy to be effective, chemotherapy is usually used.

Outlook

Due to the fact that lung cancer does not cause noticeable symptoms until it has spread through the lungs or other parts of the body, the outlook is not as good compared with other types of cancer.

Overall, 1 in 3 people diagnosed with lung cancer live for at least a year after diagnosis and 1 in 20 live for at least 10 years.

Early diagnosis is crucial for lung cancer and can make a huge difference on the prognosis and outlook of an individual.

Case Studies

We acted for a gentleman who suffered with lung cancer.  There had been a delayed diagnosis because an earlier scan that he had which showed up the cancer was not reported on appropriately and he went undiagnosed for 14 months.  Sadly by the time the lung cancer had been diagnosed it was inoperable and he was not suitable for adjuvant treatment either.  He died shortly thereafter. He started his claim and his wife continued the claim after he died and received a 6 figure settlement in compensation.

If you or a loved one has experienced a delayed diagnosis of cancer and would like to pursue a medical negligence claim please contact our specialist team for initial advice.