Radiation Treatment for

Lung Cancer

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What is lung cancer?

The lungs are an integral part of the respiratory system that enable us to breathe. Breathing occurs when you take in oxygen by inhaling and releasing carbon dioxide during exhalation. Lung cancer refers to the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the lungs and is the leading cause of cancer deaths across the globe. In Singapore, it is the second most common cancer in men and the third among women. Men are three times more likely to develop lung cancer than women. Lung cancer begins in the lungs and can spread to other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes or the brain.

There are two main types of lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). An aggressive form of lung cancer, SCLC usually spreads quickly through the bloodstream to other parts of the body. SCLC occurs almost exclusively in heavy smokers and is usually diagnosed at advanced stages. On the other hand, NSCLCs account for the majority of lung cancer cases and tend to be less aggressive. It includes various types of lung cancers such as adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. If the condition is detected early and treated immediately, successful recovery is possible. There are several lung cancer treatment options available including lung cancer radiation treatment, surgery and chemotherapy.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Lung cancer tends to only show signs and symptoms in the advanced stages. Below are some of the signs and symptoms of lung cancer. Should you experience any of them, it is advisable to visit an doctor. The appropriate treatment including lung cancer radiation treatment can be recommended, depending on your condition.

    • Constant and Persistent Coughing
      Cancerous tumours can stimulate receptors in the airway, which results in persistent coughing. Chronic coughing can be distressful and affects many with lung cancer. It may worsen as the cancer progresses and becomes more advanced.
    • Shortness of Breath
      Lung cancer tumours may block airways, exert unnecessary pressure on the lungs or cause inflammation in the respiratory system. In such instances, your respiratory system is prevented from working to its fullest ability. Breathing then becomes a challenge, which leads to shortness of breath.
    • Chest Pain
      Enlarged lymph nodes or metastasis to the chest wall, pleura or ribs may result from lung cancer. This can cause chest pains. Additionally, you may also feel pain in your back or other parts of the body if the lung cancer has spread to your bones.
    • Coughing up Blood
      Hemoptysis is referred to as the condition of coughing up blood. A bronchial arterial bleeding within the tumour is often the cause of hemoptysis. If this symptom is caused by lung cancer, lung cancer radiation treatment therapy may be recommended.
    • Fluid in Chest
      Pleural effusion, also known as ‘water on the lungs’, occurs when excess fluid accumulates between layers of pleura outside the lungs. Cancer cells can increase pleural fluid production and decrease fluid absorption.

Causes

Smoking is a major cause of lung cancer. This is because cigarette smoke contains a wide variety of carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) that affect lung tissues when exposed over a long period of time. The lung cells become damaged and start to act abnormally, leading to potential lung cancer. Even non-smokers can develop lung cancer if they are exposed to smoke, asbestos and diesel exhaust. Lung cancer between smokers and non-smokers may differ. For non-smokers, the tumours develop in young people and have a different gene makeup than tumours found in smokers.   

Doctors also theorise that inherited faulty DNA repair mechanisms can also lead to some NSCLCs. For instance, there are some people who are less able than others to break down or eliminate certain types of cancer-causing chemicals from the body, such as those found in tobacco smoke. This increases their risk for lung cancer and they may require lung cancer radiation treatment. Those whose DNA repair enzymes do not work normally may be especially vulnerable to cancer-causing chemicals and radiation as well.

Occasionally, lung cancer develops in people without known risk factors. It is possible that some of these are just random events with no outside cause, while others may be attributed to factors that are unknown to us.

Risk Factors

Lung cancer risks are influenced by a number of factors. Identifying and understanding these factors can help us better look into prevention methods, thus, decreasing our overall risk. Below are some of the risks of lung cancer.

  • Smoking
    Smoking damages the cells that line the lungs. By inhaling cigarette smoke, which is full of carcinogens, lung tissue changes almost immediately. Each repeated exposure damages the cells even more. Eventually, the cells start to act abnormally and cancer develops. To treat this condition, lung cancer radiation treatment may be recommended.
  • Exposure to Second-hand Smoke
    Second-hand smoke exposes non-smokers to many of the same cancer-causing substances. It is not risk-free and even brief exposure poses health risks. In fact, second-hand smoke causes approximately 7,330 deaths from lung cancer.
  • Exposure to Carcinogens
    Carcinogens are cancer-causing substances. Benzene, beryllium, asbestos, vinyl chloride, and arsenic are examples of chemicals that have been discovered to cause cancer. Cigarettes smoke also contains a wide variety of carcinogens.
  • Family History of Lung Cancer
    People with inherited DNA mutations (changes) are much more likely to develop certain types of cancer. Despite the fact that inherited mutations are considered to be a relatively rare cause of lung cancer, genes do play a role in some families with a history of the disease.
  • Air Pollution
    Exposure to air pollution may cause tiny particles to build up in the lungs, changing how cells replicate. DNA damage can occur and hence, lung cancer ensues, which requires the need for lung cancer radiation and other forms of treatment.

What is Radiation Therapy?

Prostate cancer radiation treatment is an option recommended for patients diagnosed with prostate cancer. It uses high-energy X-rays generated from a radiation therapy machine called a LINAC to destroy cancer cells. Prostate cancer radiation treatment has long been used to kill tumours without the need for surgical operations. It inhibits cancer cells from multiplying by delivering ionising radiation to destroy cancer cells, whilst minimising radiation damage to normal tissues. When these cancer cells die, the body naturally eliminates them. Healthy normal tissues are then able to repair themselves in a way that cancer cells cannot, leading to a much higher proportion of tumour cell death compared to normal cells.

Prevention

The risk of lung cancer can be decreased by not smoking and avoiding second-hand smoke exposure. Damaged lung tissues may gradually repair itself if a smoker quits before cancer develops. The sooner one quits smoking, the lower the risk of developing lung cancer. Taking precautions at work and wearing protective gear to prevent unnecessary exposure to workplace carcinogens help too.

No doubt, integrating healthier lifestyle choices reduces the risk of most cancers including lung cancer. One way to do this is to eat a healthy diet. Studies suggest that eating fruits and vegetables may help smokers and non-smokers prevent lung cancer. However, any positive effects from fruits and vegetables would pale in comparison with the increased risk associated with smoking. Smokers with lung cancer may require lung cancer radiation treatment based on their doctor’s recommendations.   

Another way to live a healthier lifestyle is to exercise regularly. Even moderate amounts of exercise can aid in lung cancer prevention. Exercising regularly improves lung function, reduces carcinogens and enhances the body’s ability to repair damaged DNA in lung cells. The City of Hope National Medical Center in California conducted a review, revealing that routine physical activity can lower lung cancer risk by between 20% to 30% in women and between 20% and 50% in men.

"I guarantee my very best expertise delivered with compassion and dignity as we journey TOGETHER to BEAT this dreaded illness."

- Dr Johann Tang

Make An Enquiry

Got Queries? Book an appointment with Dr Johann Tang by filling up this form. We'll get on a call with you as soon as possible.

Prefer to talk? Call us directly at +65 6690 6811
or email us at drjohanntang@gmail.com

Treatments

Lung cancer treatment varies from patient to patient depending on their condition. Treatment options include lung cancer radiation treatment, chemotherapy, surgery and targeted therapy. Ultimately it is advisable for lung cancer patients to consult their doctor to find a suitable lung cancer treatment option tailored to them. 

 

  • Lung Cancer Radiation Therapy
    This commonly utilised radiation treatment kills cancer cells that are still localised to a region of the lung and within its lymph nodes. The powerful, high-energy X-rays from lung cancer radiation therapy can also keep the cancer cells from growing.
  • Chemotherapy
    Chemotherapy plays a key role in treating SCLCs, and is frequently used in combination with lung cancer radiation treatment for later stages of lung cancer. It works by preventing the cancer cells from growing, dividing, and making more cells.
  • Surgery
    Surgery is more frequently used to treat earlier stages of lung cancer, such as stage one and two. It may involve removing the tumour, surrounding lung tissue and lymph nodes in the region of the tumour.
  • Targeted Therapy
    In targeted therapy, drugs are used to target specific genes and proteins associated with cancer cell growth and survival. It is beneficial for patients who have cancer cells with abnormal genetic mutations that make them more vulnerable. Your doctor may combine targeted therapy with chemotherapy and other treatments to treat your lung cancer.

"I guarantee my very best expertise delivered with compassion and dignity as we journey TOGETHER to BEAT this dreaded illness."

- Dr Johann Tang

Make An Enquiry

Got Queries? Book an appointment with Dr Johann Tang by filling up this form. We'll get on a call with you as soon as possible.

Prefer to talk? Call us directly at +65 6690 6811
or email us at drjohanntang@gmail.com

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Contact Dr Johann Tang

ME Novena Specialist Group
@ Mt. Elizabeth Novena Hospital
Address: 38 Irrawaddy Road
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Address: Amnios Building
1 Biopolis Drive,
#01-01
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Frequently Asked Question

Lung cancer does not necessarily mean a death sentence. Early detection and treatment such as lung cancer radiation treatment may cure the disease.

There are several treatment options for lung cancer including lung cancer radiation treatment, chemotherapy and surgery. Ultimately, treatment success depends on your condition and what your doctor recommends.

The overall risk is low and only 8% of lung cancers run in families. Nevertheless, discussing your family history with your doctor is a good option for those with health concerns.

While surgery may work better for one patient, lung cancer radiation treatment may be more well-suited for another. It depends on the condition and what your doctor advises.

Finding out about cancer is never easy. It is recommended to talk to family and friends and lean on them for support. Alternatively, you can also talk to a therapist and remember to take care of your health by eating and sleeping well. It is also imperative to begin your lung cancer treatment promptly, as starting treatment early can improve your chances of recovery.

It takes most lung cancers between three and six months to double in size. Therefore, it could take several years before a lung cancer reaches a size where it can be detected by a chest X-ray.