Metastatic lung cancer

Metastatic lung cancer is the form of cancer that has spread to the lungs from other parts of the body. In a Metastatic lung cancer the cancer in other parts like breast, colon, prostrate, and bladder spread to the lungs through the bloodstream and form cancerous growth in the lungs.

This type of cancer in the lungs is called the Metastatic lung cancer. Thus a cancer that has spread to the lungs is said to have metastasized to the lungs. The symptoms of such lung cancer are cough, bloody sputum, and shortness of breath, rib cage pain, weight loss and weakness. There are many methods available to diagnose a cancer.

Chest X-Ray, Chest CT Scan, cytology studies of pleural fluid or sputum, lung needle biopsy, surgical lung biopsy, and bronchoscopy are the methods available for diagnosis of metastatic lung cancer. Among them the chest X-ray is the most commonly performed method to detect cancer. The procedure involves taking X-rays from back to the front and also on the sides. For detecting Metastatic cancer the CT scan is used.

Diagnosis

To find out the extent of the Metastatic cancer in the brain a CT scan is the best tool. This reveals the presence of the Metastatic cancer in the brain.

Other areas like liver and adrenal glands can also be scanned with the CT scan. In some cases the lung cancer would have metastasized to the bones. In such cases a Bone scan is done to determine that.

The procedure for bone scan involves injection of radioactive material to the bloodstream. This radioactive material collects in the bones in the areas where Metastatic tumors are present. The scanner detects these radioactive materials and the image is recorded.

A blood test may also reveal the presence of Metastatic cancer in the bones, if an increased level of calcium or alkaline phosphatase is found. Similarly an increase level of aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase indicates the presence of Metastatic cancer in the liver.

Treatment

Treatment for Metastatic lung cancer is usually through chemotherapy. Metastatic lung cancer indicates that the cancer has spread to the bloodstream and due to this the cancer may be found in many places that are not detected by a CT scan.

Hence chemotherapy is used for treatment of such cancer. Sometime metastases in the lungs can be removed by surgery also. The brain is an important part that is affected by Metastatic cancer. A radiation therapy is given to the brain even if there is no cancer in the brain. This is to prevent any Metastatic cancer to the brain. This kind of treatment to the brain is termed as prophylactic cranial irradiation.

Consult your radiation oncologist regarding a radiation therapy to your brain. However this kind of exposures of the brain to the radiation may have side effects. The decision to have a radiation therapy to the brain should be taken after the patient and the doctor discuss about the possible risks and complications.

It is always better to prevent than to cure. Hence it is better to stop smoking and eat a healthy diet with regular exercises. Try to avoid alcohol or keep it at the minimum. These might prevent some types of cancer.

Top Image: National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health. Lung cancer driven by the Kras oncogene (in purple).

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