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Lung cancer - symptoms, causes, treatments and therapies

Lung cancer, causes and treatments

This lung cancer facts and information overview and its associated articles will help you increase your personal odds of survival. We cover the symptoms, the diagnosis, the possible causes and the latest options on lung cancer treatments and therapies - from lung cancer drugs, chemotherapy and immunotherapy, to surgery, radiotherapy and complementary therapies; including all the very latest alternative lung cancer treatments and new therapies and research on lung cancer. We will even cover the types of lung cancer, and lung cancer prevention. 

This article has been compiled from worldwide research and expert sources.*  

Introduction

Lung cancer is still the UK Number 1 cancer and, despite efforts to reduce smoking and asbestos, it is still growing. Perhaps this is because the fastest growing area of lung cancer is non-small cell lung cancer and this doesn´t require you to be a smoker to develop it, as we will see. More women die from lung cancer than breast cancer. The orthodox medical therapies seem numerous, but have really been quite limited in success until recently. Perhaps this is why more and more patients are turning to complementary lung cancer therapies, and even some alternative lung cancer treatments as well. 

You are on the only UK website that can fully help with this. At the bottom of this article we will guide you through our website looking at ways to help yourself increase your personal odds of survival.

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Symptoms of lung cancer

Diagnosing Lung cancer early is extremely important to outcome.

The main symptoms to look for are:

  • Chest infections that wont go away, even with antibiotics
  • A cough for more than 3 weeks
  • Coughing up blood
  • Feeling more tired than usual
  • Feeling very out of breath
  • Losing your voice -  but no sore throat
  • Chest pains
  • Losing weight but not sure why

Causes of lung cancer

At the 2004 Cancer Prevention Conference organised by CANCERactive in London, a person (who was very senior in the Cancer Industry) turned to me and behind his hand whispered, ´Of course, we´d get rid of cancer if people just stopped smoking´. To which I replied, ´Well, you´re in the Government.  Why don´t you just ban cigarettes and smoking?!´

Firstly, the Government would lose all that lovely revenue; secondly, the Tobacco boys would lobby and lobby and take them to court. Thirdly, there would be public outcry. And lastly, it is naivety like this that fuels the growth of cancer in the UK. 

For example, increasingly smoking has little or nothing to do with the most rapidly growing area of lung cancer! 

 Just over a third of all lung cancers develop in people

                                  who have never been exposed to smoke

Canadian research from Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto and covered in Cancer Watch was quite clear: Just over a third of all lung cancers develop in people who have never been exposed to smoke. They don´t smoke, never did, don´t frequent places filled with smoke, nor have a family member who smokes. ´Many of these people are young and female´, said lead researcher Dr Matasha Leighl. 

This has been confirmed by studies in California where researchers feel it is extremely likely that a combination of environmental hormone disrupters (xenoestrogens) plus an increasing level of airborne pollutants and not simply smoking is now behind the lung cancer increases. 

Most non-small cell lung cancer is driven by oestrogen receptor sites on cells. We have a simple book on what exactly you can do for yourself to cut your oestrogen levels. 

   Go to: Oestrogen the killer in our midst 

The Canadian and Californian researchers have pointed the finger at oestrogen (estrogen) mimics - chemicals that are commonly found in our homes, and in personal care and toiletry products that once inside our bodies mimic the action of aggressive oestrogen and cause their havoc. Certainly Boston University Medical School have shown how environmental chemicals affect receptor sites and how cancer cells have 50 times more such receptors than healthy cells. 

These toxins are not hard to avoid if you can find a supplier of quality products containing no chemicals of concern. We suggest you look at the company endorsed by the Cancer Prevention Coalition in the USA:

Go to: Live Clean - Everyday products with no chemicals of concern 

However, our attitude to cancer at this charity is that rarely does any one single factor cause a cancer. Whilst we are extremely happy to see smoking banned in public places in the UK from July 1st 2007, our view is that it is more likely that combinations of factors cause cancer. You build cancer over a 6 to 10 year period, sometimes longer., by developing a body that is conducive to cancer rather than being conducive to health. The Science of Epigenetics teaches us that problems occur through 

     * Environmental toxins (including smoking)

     * Poor Diet

     * Hormones such as estrogen or Thyroxin

     * Stress

So let´s look at some of these possible lung cancer causes or contributing factors:

1. Yes, Smoking is a risk factor, as is passive smoking. 80 per cent of lung cancers are officially linked to smoking. Worse, for females the lung cancer factor seems to be carried on the X chromosome and females have two to a male´s one. Research indicated in 2003, that women thus had twice the risk as men from identical levels of secondary smoke. There is a decline in male cancers, but an increase in female cancers. In America, the American lung Association states that ´Smoking contributes to 80 to 90 per cent of lung cancer deaths in men and women. Men who smoke are 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer. Women are 13 times more likely than ´never´ smokers.´

2. And there´s asbestos. We´ve all heard about asbestos in the work place. This can have a direct effect on the cells of the lung tissues. (We have a separate section on mesothelioma.) But asbestos is the cousin of ..

3. Talcum Powder: Not for nothing is there a warning on certain baby packs saying, ´Do not use near your baby´s nose or mouth´. Known to cause ovarian cancer, talcum powder is the main constituent of some face packs, powder puffs, mascaras etc

4. Radon: Rarely mentioned in UK cancer reports, in the USA they believe this gas which bubbles up through the floor of houses that are over rocks containing uranium, accounts for as much as 26 per cent of all lung cancers. There are definitely regions in the UK where this is more prevalent (eg. The West Country) and you can have your house checked out by the National Radiological Protection Agency if you are concerned.

 Radon may account for 26% of lung cancers

5. Diesel Fumes: Like Radon the dangerous elements are particulate and stick to dust particles, which you then breathe. Once inside your lungs they are very hard to oust. Again US cancer charities talk about 23 per cent of all lung cancers forming in this way. Of most concern is that smoking, plus radon, plus diesel fumes seem to multiply up, two or three concurrent factors greatly increasing risk. Certainly people living near main roads in dense traffic areas seem to have higher risk.

Diesel fumes may account for 23% of lung cancers

6. Formaldehyde: There are numerous studies on the toxicity of this chemical - it is a class A carcinogen. You can find higher levels in houses that have lots of wood chip (it comes from the glues used), and from glues used under some carpet and ceiling tiles. Worryingly, many personal care products contain it. It can be called by a variety of names and has a number of similar, closely related cousins in all about 40. It is found in shampoos and nail polishes for example, though not in Sweden and Japan where it is banned.

7. Arsenic: June 12 Issue of the Journal of The National Cancer Institute reports that high levels of Arsenic found in contaminated water, can result in increased risk ten years or more after consumption. But they could have reported on other heavy metals like chromium. There have been a number of incidences worldwide where heavy metal contamination by factories in local water supplies has resulted in increases in lung cancer.

8. Oestrogen: US research in 2004 and covered in Cancer Watch showed that certain types of lung cancer were fuelled by oestrogen, or estrogen - particularly oestradiol (estradiol) made by aromatase enzymes in the fat stores in the body - or even oestrogen mimics (Xenoestrogens) from all manner of everyday chemicals. Contrary to urban mythology, research conducted by various groups including the US Cancer Prevention Coalition has shown that by far the biggest concentration of such chemical pollutants is not in the center of cities but actually inside your own home. Cleaning agents, personal products, toiletries, plastic bottles and pesticides are likely culprits. (See our feature article: As safe as Houses). The World Health Organisation in 2013 called on all Governments to ban all BPA, phthalates and parabens. Synthetic oestrogen supplements (like HRT) may also heighten risk. Being overweight will also womb4 increase natural oestrogen levels in the body. Some foods like broccoli (Indole 3 Carbinol) will help denature oestradiol, others will hinder and you should read both Pillar II and Pillar III  of the causes of cancer to understand more.

9. Tuberculosis: There is some evidence that there is an increased risk amongst people who have had TB especially in areas of the lung where there is scar tissue.

10. Hereditary links: Recent research showing that families of smokers had a 70 per cent risk rather than a more normal individual increased risk of 30-40 per cent, has fuelled the idea that some families carry a lung cancer gene. However, this may be overly simplistic. The BRCA1 and BRCA 2 genes, although identified when studying breast cancer, actually control the ability of the cell to regenerate its DNA and correct faults, and to allow the immune system to better identify rogue cells. There is even some evidence that Statins (those cholesterol lowering wonder drugs) can act as preventative agents for lung cancer. Only time will clarify all of this.

11 X-Rays: There is quite a lot of evidence (for example from women with breast cancer who had radiotherapy treatment) that X-rays to the chest region can play a part in causing lung cancer.

...the important point is not to dwell on things that have happened but understand what factors might still be present, driving and maintaining your cancer. Then formulate an action plan.

Now, the important point is that we are not listing the possible contributory factors so that you dwell on things that have happened in the past. We want you to understand what factors might still be present in your life and might be contributing to the maintenance of your cancer. Then you can formulate an action plan. There are, for example, minerals you can take, like selenium, or complex compounds like chlorella that can help you eliminate heavy metals, if you fear they have played a part. Or you can act to lower the oestrogen (natural and synthetic) in your life; oestrogen that might be fuelling your cancer right now. You can find out comprehensive information on these topics and more elsewhere on this site.

Types of lung cancer

Lung cancer is a cancer that forms in tissues of the lung, usually in the cells lining the air passages. Medical experts have decided to categorise it into three types:

i) Small Cell lung cancer

About 20 per cent of all lung cancers, (sometimes called oat cell lung cancer). A two-stage system describes the spread:

  1. either limited, meaning the cancer is confined to a portion of the chest where it originated, or
  2. extensive, meaning the cancer has spread throughout the lung or even out from the chest area.

This cancer can spread very quickly.  In many cases, cancer cells have already spread to other parts of the body when the disease is diagnosed. This rapid spread limits the treatment options.  In order to reach cancer cells throughout the body, doctors almost always use chemotherapy, although they may use radiotherapy, in some cases even as a preventative measure, for example with the brain.

ii) Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)

Non-small cell lung cancer has grown rapidly. A report in 2009 claimed it had grown from 12 to 40 per cent of all lung cancers in just 20 years. It is at a much higher level now. NSCLC is characterised by oestrogen receptor sites, and is not necessarily linked to smoking. A review of the latest thinking is here. There are three sub-groups determined by the type of cell found in each case:

  1. squamous cell carcinoma (also called epidermoid carcinoma)
  2. adenocarcinoma
  3. large cell carcinoma

Non-small cell lung cancer is described using four stages:

  • stage I The cancer is confined to the lung;
  • stages II and III. The cancer is confined to the chest;
  • stage IV. The cancer has spread from the chest.

iii) Mesothelioma

Some charities like to say that this is now an increasingly rare cancer. On researching this form of the disease in detail, we found evidence that the disease is yet to peak. The disease is found in the chest and abdominal lining. Sadly, it mainly affects people who have had occupational exposure to asbestos particles. We have covered this cancer in a separate section on this website  Go to: Mesothelioma lung cancer    

iv) Secondary lung cancer

There is a fourth type of lung cancer which is a SECONDARY from a primary cancer elsewhere. This may not be governed by the classifications above. It is a metastasis from the breast, colon or prostate cancer (for example) and is better categorised by its origins.

Lung cancer treatment options

A number of factors govern the actual treatment chosen, For example, the type of lung cancer (non-small or small cell lung cancer), its location, size, and extent of the tumour. The general strength and health of the patient is also a factor. But the most important factor is how early the cancer is diagnosed. For 80 per cent of patients, surgery is not an option because the cancer has been diagnosed so late.

Broadly the orthodox lung cancer treatment falls under 3 headings:

1. Surgery: may be used to remove a part of the lung (a resection), or an entire lobe (a lobectomy). Sometimes the surgeon will remove lymph nodes in the chest. On occasion surgery is simply not an option because of the size and/or location of the tumour and/or the patients general state of health. 

2. Radiotherapy: may be used before surgery in an attempt to shrink a tumour, or after surgery to attempt to destroy remaining cancer cells. It may also be used with chemotherapy as primary treatment instead of surgery or even to relieve symptoms such as shortness of breath. Most usually external radiation is used but occasionally implants may be suggested.

3. Chemotherapy:  Drugs are growing ever more targeted and ever more sophisticated. They may be used to stop the growth of the tumour and to kill all cancer cells, whether they remain in the lung or are outside. Some now target the blood supplies of the tumour. A whole raft of new ´targeted drugs´ (including immunotherapies) have been launched - these include, Afatinib, Bevacizumab, Ceritinib, Crizotinib, Erlotinib, Nivolumab, Ramucirumab. Whew!!!

Diet3 


For information on your Cancer Drugs and chemotherapy click here. Most drugs are administered orally or via a tube into a vein in the arm (a catheter). The biggest problem is that lung cancer cells develop long-term resistance to chemotherapy drugs. Researchers have also found that cells with high levels of two proteins FGF-1 and S6K2 are more resistant to drugs in the first place.

Alternative Lung Cancer treatments; Complementary lung cancer treatments

There´s an increasingly blurred line between complementary and alternative cancer therapies; anyway, at CANCERactive we believe the issue is to build an Integrative cancer treatment programme using the best of the best to increase your personal odds of survival. Let´s look at some options. 

"Why not have a personal Prescription with Chris Woollams? He can help you build your own treatment programme tailored to you and your cancer."

Go to: Personal prescriptions

Radio waves

4. Ultrasound: Still in its infancy in the UK where it is used a little for prostate and kidney cancers, it is however much more commonly used in the USA and Europe. Radiofrequency Ablation or Ablatherm (the technical term for using radio wave hyperthermia on cancer cells at high temperature) is covered extensively on this website. It could be a safe and feasible alternative for those patients with Non-small cell lung cancer according to Professor S Batra of UCLA San Francisco. This may be an option for people with small tumours at the outside edges of the lungs. 

Go to: Ablation, localised hyperthermia, HIFU  

5. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) Increasingly popular in the USA, it is now making a mark to in the UK as better photosensitive agents and lasers are being developed. Former UK cancer tzar Professor Mike Richards asked for more funds to be directed towards this non-invasive treatment, but the finished article seems quite a way off. It is much more a mainstream option in the USA than the UK, even though it now reasonably well established and the new agents have low side effects. According to the FDA in America, PDT may also enhance the immune system against the cancer. There are a number of studies on PDT and lung cancer from the USA to Japan (See - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17409904) 

Go to: Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) 

6. Cryosurgery, or cryoablation: Can be used with NSCLC where the disease is not suitable for resection.  Cryosurgery involves tissue being frozen to destroy abnormal cells. This is usually done with a special instrument that contains liquid nitrogen or liquid carbon dioxide. According to an overview (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3426750/) there can be numerous side effects but it can extend life.

7. Lung cancer vaccines: Cuba launched CIMAvax, the world´s first lung cancer vaccine back in 2011 and it only costs $1 per dose.  It is called CIMAvax, there are many cases of it extending life, you just have to go to Cuba to get it.

Go to: CIMAvax and lung cancer from Cuba 

8. Intravenous Vitamin C: The use of IVC has long been controversial. After Linus Pauling used vitamin C to load up cancer cells with free-radical oxygen, others failed to replicate his work by using oral doses. Since the body rejects more than about 4.5 gm of vitamin C, this was chalk and cheese. Now researchers at Ohio Medical School are in the middle of full 3 phase clinical trials. They have reached Phase 2 and IVC clearly increases survival times in NSCLC. Only by Phase 3 will we know by how much. 

Go to: Intravenous Vitamin C


NB: Although we always try to write in easy-to-understand words, you may find that some websites, information leaflets, Doctors and Nurses use words that are not as easy to understand. For that reason we have compiled a list of all the technical words they commonly use called DOCTORSPEAK, the list turns it all into simple, easy to understand English. You can find this list of words by clicking here.

Click here and read our article "What is Cancer" 

What else do you need to know about Lung cancer?

Diet and lung cancer: Research has shown that you need to keep your saturated fat levels low if you´re a smoker.

Go to: Saturated fat intake increases lung cancer risk in smokers 

There is also evidence that saturated fat is linked to higher rates of metastases because high triglyceride and cholesterol levels in the blood help cancer cells to spread. However, the good fat Mediterranean diet results in less cancers developing, and less mortality from cancer if you have a cancer and adhere to the diet.

Go to: Adherence to Mediterranean diet reduces cancer mortality  

Keep a clean liver - fat build up in the liver causes a fatty liver and can lead to higher levels of fat in the blood stream.

 Go to The Rainbow Diet

Go to: 3 ways to clean your liver 

Keep a healthy gut microbiome - you can take a good probiotic and keep your yeasts at bay. Look at our recommended probiotic (Probio8 Max) and our 3-in-1 Para-Free Plus.

Go to: Gut health products

But as the research says, while saturated fat worsens lung cancer risk in smokers and helps cancers spread, good fat (olive oil, fish oils, avocado, nuts oils etc reduce risk and spread. This is the very essence of the colourful Mediterranean Diet and the CANCERactive recommended Diet for people with cancer.

 Go to: ´Heal Your Gut Heal Your Body´

Go to: Recommended diet for people with lung cancer 

Beware of anaemia: Managing and counteracting anaemia can reduce death from anaemia by 50 per cent. Research published by the Cochrane Collaboration showed that epoetins (alfa and beta epoetin) show significant survival benefits. Particularly striking were the results for patients with solid tumours (Breast, lung, colon) where risk of death decreased by 51 per cent).  In a second study (European Soc. For Medical Oncology- 31st Oct 2005) epotin beta was shown to reduce risk of tumour progression in patients with anaemia.


Fatigue: icon has run several pieces on fatigue. A qualified naturopath will be able to suggest dietary changes to boost energy levels. Qualified homeopaths may be able to suggest ways to counter fatigue. Energy therapists ( eg. acupuncture, cranial osteopaths, Reiki Masters) may well be able to help. Italian research showed a lack of acetyl-carnitine  which supplementation could correct. UCLA scientist report that a series of genetic markers become blocked either due to the cancer or due to the chemotherapy treatment. The California team note promising results with Etanercept. Apparently 30 per cent of women who have had chemo for breast cancer have long-term fatigue, even after the cancer has gone. This may well be true for other cancers.

Cachexia: a 2012 report in Cancer Watch confirmed previous studies that in lung cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, fish oils aided appetitite and reduced the risk of developing cachexia (where the drug itself causes a downward spiral of weight loss and even leads to death).

Virus therapies? In 1997 Dr Jack Roth of the MD Anderson Center, Texas pioneered work using a genetically engineered virus coupled with Radiotherapy. Two patients (Alfredo Gonzalvo, now78, and Bernis Testers, now 84) were given the adenovirus (the common cold virus) as a vector to take healthy copies of the p53 gene right into their lung cancer tumours. In all, to date, over 600 people have been treated and in half the cases the tumour has shrunk. The immune system does try to kick the cold virus out before it has reached the tumour, so Roth has found a way of encasing it in liposomes to get past the immune system into the tumour.

There seems to be a protective gene for lung cancer. Although very little is known about the molecular basis for this disease, scientist have found a gene LIMDI) which is reduced in all lung cancer cells analysed apparently though it is missing in many types of cancer.

Breast implants: US research on Swedish women with silicone breast implants (Yes, seriously!) showed that while they had no higher risk of breast cancer, cases of lung cancer were higher than expected (Journal of the Nat. Cancer Inst. 2006; 98; 557).

Beta-carotene: There is one research study, which shows that smokers taking synthetic beta-carotene (as opposed to natural forms) have increased levels of lung cancer. 

‘Stress Management Techniques’ have been linked to ‘significantly improved survival’ in a number of studies in Cancer Watch over recent years. Stress hormones like cortisol increase in cancer patients, not surprisingly. UCLA showed that diet could reduce them, fish oils can relengthen the DNA telomeres they shorten, fish oils and curcumin can reduce cellular inflammation around the body, yoga can reduce cortisol levels (Seattle Medical School) and meditation can improve survival above and beyond this ‘significantly’.

Personal counseling has been shown to aid survival further, and in clinical studies good palliative care beat chemotherapy in prolonging life.

Integrative Cancer treatment and lung cancer 

CANCERactive is Europe´s Number 1 Integrative Cancer Charity. This website alone has more than 4,000 pages of information on it, either as articles or as news stories. More than 10,000 people visit our websites every day. We know from the feed-back we receive just how much we are valued by people trying to beat cancer. 

We believe you can increase your personal odds of cancer survival by taking simple health-enhancing steps and adding both complementary cancer therapies and alternative cancer therapies into your mix of treatments. 

For example, Hyperbaric Oxygen, curcumin, calorie restriction, melatonin, probiotics and whole body hyperthermia have all been shown in research to make chemotherapy work better. It then kills more cells! The research is covered on this website. Surely it makes a lot of sense to use them in your personal cancer treatment programme?

Go to: How to improve your chemotherapy
 
We cover how to improve your radiotherapy (and reduce side-effects) too. 


Go to: Improve your Radiotherapy, and reduce side-effects

We have a complete review of Immunotherapy telling you the accurate figures and what to watch out for. We tell you what is working and when two new drugs have been used, rather than one. It´s a new, emerging and alternative cancer therapy, but not fully there yet! 

Go to: A complete review of Immunotherapy  

Then we have an article on how to improve the success of your radiotherapy (and reduce the potential side-effects) – all by adding complementary therapies. Our Guidelines on Diet and Exercise can be found through this link:

Go to: CANCERactive Guidelines on Diet and exercise 

Our recommended anti-cancer diet is the colourful Mediterranean Diet (with its focus on the French paradox):  

Go to: The Rainbow Diet

Like Hippocrates, we believe all cancer begins in the gut and that gut problems, yeast, viral and parasite infections are common constituents of cancer.

Go to: All cancer begins in the gut

But if you just want to look at the most comprehensive list of Complementary Therapies you can find it here:

Go to: CANCERactive Complementary and Integrative cancer therapies

And if you want alternative cancer therapies start here:

Go to: CANCERactive Alternative cancer therapies 

Finally, if you want all this put together for you in one simple plan, why not look into having a Personal Prescription?

Go to: Personal Prescriptions with Chris Woollams

We don’t take one penny from any Pharmaceutical company, cancer clinic or supplements company. We have no vested interest. We just want to see you beat cancer. 

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 *Cancer (and its related illnesses) are very serious and very individual diseases.  Readers must always consult directly with experts and specialists in the appropriate medical field before taking, or refraining from taking, any specific action.
This web site is intended to provide research-based information on cancer and its possible causes and therapies, so that you can make more informed decisions in consultation with those experts. Although our information comes from expert sources, and is most usually provided by Professors, scientists and Doctors, our easy-to-understand, jargon-free approach necessitates that journalists, not doctors, write the copy. For this reason, whilst the authors, management and staff of CANCERactive,
icon, and Health Issues have made every effort to ensure its accuracy, we assume no responsibility for any error, any omission or any consequences of an error or omission. Readers must consult directly with their personal specialists and advisors, and we cannot be held responsible for any action, or inaction, taken by readers as a result of information contained on this web site, or in any of our publications.  Any action taken or refrained from by a reader is taken entirely at the readers own instigation and, thus, own risk.

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