Large Cell Lung Cancer
Large Cell Lung Cancer is a subset of another group of cancers called "non-small cell" cancers. The term comes from the relatively large appearance of the cancerous cells when viewed under a microscope.
When compared to small cell cancers, non-small cell carcinomas are more common, slower-spreading, and less likely to be caused by smoking. However, large cell lung cancer has a higher correlation to smoking, is rarer, and grows and spreads more quickly than other non-small cell cancers.
Large cell lung cancer generally develops in the outer regions of the lung. This can delay the onset of noticeable symptoms, causing the cancer to be discovered later in its development, making it harder to treat in some cases.
Symptoms of Large Cell Lung Cancer
Because large cell lung cancer forms in the outer regions of the lung, initial symptoms may not be directly associated with lung cancer. Symptoms may include fatigue, shortness of breath, and aching in the chest, shoulders or back.
Small cell cancers, in comparison, tend to form in the interior regions of the lung, causing chronic cough and discharge of blood during coughing.
Large cell lung cancer tumors may also secrete hormone-like substances, causing related symptoms, such as an enlargement of the breasts in men.
Because catching cancerous growths in their early stages is crucial to successful treatment of them, patients are advised to consult with their healthcare providers about any of these symptoms they are experiencing.
Causes of Large Cell Lung Cancer
Large Cell Lung Cancer, more than other forms of non-small cell cancer, has a fairly high correlation to smoking.
It is linked to a variety of other factors as well.
Occupational hazards can lead to developing large cell lung cancer. Exposure to natural fibers (asbestos, silica), radioactive elements (radon), solvents (benzene, toluene) and reactive chemicals (mustard gas, vinyl chloride) can lead to an increased risk for large cell lung cancer.
Asbestos exposure, in particular, is of concern to workers who served as electricians, plumbers, or military service members. You can read more about the link between asbestos and cancer here.
Large Cell Lung Cancer – Treatment and Prognosis
Large cell lung cancer is a fairly aggressive form of cancer. The 5-year survival rate hovers around 15 percent. This low survival rate is exacerbated by the fact that large cell lung cancer tumors are usually not discovered until they have already grown to large sizes.
There are, however, many avenues to treatment.
Surgical procedures conducted by thoracic surgeons are often performed to remove cancerous cells. This method is most effective when undertaken before the cancerous cells have metastasized to other areas of the body.
Treatment with chemotherapy and/or radiation can also be helpful. Introducing chemicals or radiation into the cancerous cells can cause them to die, reducing tumor size and slowing the spread of the cancer.
Targeted therapies also exist which attack proteins that exist only on cancer cells. Although these therapies are valued for the reduced severity of their side effects, they are in some cases less developed and therefore less successful.
Large Cell Lung Cancer Resources
You can read more about lung cancer pathology throughout our site. If you are looking for further information or would like to talk to one of our representatives, you can also fill out the form on this page and someone will get in touch with you to answer your question.