Pulmonary and Sleep Specialists in Michigan

What is Lung Cancer?

The uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the lungs, often linked to smoking but can also occur in non-smokers.

How is lung cancer diagnosed?

Lung cancer is typically diagnosed through a combination of the following tests:

• Imaging tests:

Chest X-ray, CT scan, MRI, and PET scan are used to look for abnormal areas in the lungs that may indicate cancer.

• Sputum cytology:

Examination of mucus coughed up from the lungs under a microscope to check for cancer cells.

• Biopsy:

A small sample of lung tissue is removed and examined under a microscope to confirm the presence of cancer cells. This can be done through bronchoscopy, mediastinoscopy, or a needle biopsy.

• Molecular testing:

Analysis of the cancer cells' genetic makeup to identify specific mutations that can guide targeted treatment options, such as tests for EGFR, ALK, ROS1, BRAF, NTRK, MET, RET, and KRAS gene changes.

The diagnostic process often starts with a physical exam and review of symptoms by a healthcare provider. If lung cancer is suspected, further testing is done to confirm the diagnosis and determine the stage of the cancer. The specific tests used depend on the individual patient's situation and the healthcare provider's assessment.

Dr. Asker Asmi, MD is a certified pulmonologist, and sleep disorders doctor in Michigan

Social Links:
Dr. Asmi’s Beaumont Hospital Page
Dr. Asmi’s Henry Ford Profile Page

Dr. Asmi is a Pulmonologist and sleep specialist based in Michigan that specializes in advanced COPD. He follows a multidisciplinary treatment plan that includes nutrition, medicine, lifestyle changes, damage prevention and active treatment with close follow up. Doctor Asmi’s expertise include Critical Care Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine, Pulmonary Critical Care and Sleep Medicine. Dr. Asmi is also affiliated with Beaumont Hospital and runs a private practice in Riverview, MI.

What are some of the early signs of lung cancer?

The early signs of lung cancer may include:

• Persistent cough that doesn't go away or gets worse over time.

• Chest pain that worsens with deep breathing, laughing, coughing or sneezing.

• Wheezing.

• Shortness of breath, especially during physical activity.

• Frequent lung infections, such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

• Coughing up phlegm or rust-colored sputum.

• Unexplained weight loss and fatigue.

• Hoarseness.

• Bone pain and frequent bone fractures (from cancer that has spread to the bones).

• Swelling in the neck, face, or arms.

What are some of the key risk factors for lung cancer?

• Cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer, linked to 80-90% of lung cancer deaths.
• The more years a person smokes and the more cigarettes smoked per day, the higher the risk.
• Even smoking a few cigarettes a day or smoking occasionally increases the risk.
• Quitting smoking can lower the risk, but the risk remains higher than for those who never smoked.

Secondhand smoke:

• Exposure to secondhand smoke from others' cigarettes, pipes, or cigars can also increase the risk of lung cancer.

Radon exposure:
• Radon is a naturally occurring gas that can build up in homes and buildings, and is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.
• The risk is higher for smokers exposed to radon.

Occupational exposures:
• Exposure to certain substances like asbestos, arsenic, diesel exhaust, and some forms of silica and chromium can increase lung cancer risk, especially for smokers.

Personal or family history of lung cancer:
• Having had lung cancer previously or having a close relative with lung cancer can increase one's risk.

Radiation therapy to the chest:
• People who have had radiation therapy to the chest for other cancers are at higher risk of developing lung cancer, especially if they smoke.

Air pollution:
• Living in areas with higher levels of air pollution may slightly increase lung cancer risk.

What are the treatments for advanced stages of lung cancer?

The treatment options for advanced-stage lung cancer (also known as metastatic lung cancer) depend on several factors, such as the location and number of tumors, the patient's overall health, and their individual preferences. Some possible treatment options include:

  1. Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy involves using drugs to kill cancer cells. It can be given intravenously (through a vein), orally (as pills), or through a catheter placed directly into the chest cavity or abdomen.
  2. Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy uses drugs or other substances to target specific molecules involved in cancer growth and progression. It can be used alone or in combination with chemotherapy.
  3. Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy stimulates the body's immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells. It can take several forms, including checkpoint inhibitors, CAR T-cell therapy, and monoclonal antibodies.
  4. Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to shrink tumors or relieve symptoms.
  5. Palliative care: Palliative care focuses on improving the quality of life for patients with advanced cancer, rather than trying to cure the disease. It can include pain management, symptom relief, emotional support, and spiritual care.
  6. Clinical trials: Participating in a clinical trial may provide access to new treatments that are not yet available to the general public. Your healthcare team can help you explore this option if it's appropriate for your situation.

How can lung cancer be prevented?

  1. Quit smoking: Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. The best way to prevent lung cancer is to quit smoking.
  2. Avoid secondhand smoke: Exposure to secondhand smoke can also increase the risk of lung cancer. It's important to avoid being around others who smoke.
  3. Stay away from indoor and outdoor air pollution: Long-term exposure to high levels of air pollution has been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer. Try to limit your exposure by using filters in your home, avoiding heavily trafficked roads, and supporting clean energy initiatives.
  4. Eat a healthy diet: A healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may help protect against lung cancer.
  5. Avoid radon gas exposure: Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can seep into homes and buildings from the ground. It's important to test your home for radon and take steps to reduce exposure if necessary.
  6. Get screened if you are at high risk: Certain groups, such as smokers or former smokers over the age of 50, may benefit from regular lung cancer screening using low-dose CT scans.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What are the risks and benefits of surgery for early-stage lung cancer?

For patients with stage I and II lung cancer who underwent surgical treatment, the 2-year survival rate was 87.8% and the 5-year survival rate was 69.6%.

The 5-year and 10-year survival rates for upfront surgery without adjuvant treatment were 71% and 53% respectively.

What is the success rate of surgery for early-stage lung cancer?

While surgery for early-stage lung cancer carries some risks, it remains the most effective curative treatment option, with excellent long-term survival rates when performed on appropriate patients. The choice between different surgical approaches is tailored to the individual patient's circumstances.

What is the recovery time for surgery for early-stage lung cancer?

While recovery times can vary, most patients can expect to spend 2-7 days in the hospital and then several weeks to months recovering at home, with VATS procedures generally allowing for faster recovery compared to open surgery.

Is lung cancer treatment typically covered by insurance?

While insurance coverage can help pay for lung cancer treatment, patients often still face out-of-pocket expenses. Actively exploring all available financial assistance options is important to manage the costs of care. Lung cancer treatment can be very expensive, but health insurance, including government programs like Medicare and Medicaid, can help cover the costs. The amount a patient has to pay depends on the type of insurance coverage they have and the specific treatments they receive.