Nursing Homework Paper on Literature Review: Lung Cancer

Literature Review: Lung Cancer


Lung cancer is a devastating type of cancer that has a low rate of survival of five years. According to the center for diseases prevention and control, many people die from lung cancer compared to other forms of cancer (Ravenel, 2012). Although working in particular industries increases the risk of getting lung cancer, smoking is the primary cause of the deadly disease. It develops when abnormal cells grow in the lungs. Since the abnormal cells reproduce more rapidly than the lung tissues, tumors and lumps grow making it hard for the lungs to function effectively and normally. Coughing is the initial and most common sign of lung cancer. The cough may be an existing one that gets worse or it could be new that does not go away. A lung cancer patient is highly likely to develop respiratory infections or bronchitis causing shortness or wheezing of breath because of the compromised status of the lungs. Lung cancer patients experience fatigue all time because of their dysfunctional lungs. However, some people do not exhibit the lung cancer symptoms and consequently, the lung cancer is discovered when they are being examined for other medical illnesses (Benatar, 2001). To such people, an abrupt shedding of body weight is the only symptom because a sudden loss of weight is often a concern if you have not attempted to lose weight.

Types of Lung Cancer

            Non-small cells lung cancer is the most common cancer type that accounts for more than 80% of the reported cases. It is the most rapidly growing cancer type that spreads easily to other body parts. SLSC includes 3 subtypes; squamous cell carcinoma, large cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. In approximately 40% of lung cancer cases, adenocarcinoma is situated in the outer section of the lungs. Large cell carcinoma starts anywhere in the lungs and then spreads rapidly. It accounts to approximately 20% of lung cancer cases. Squamous cell carcinoma is positively correlated with smoking and is found at the middle part of the lungs accounting for an average of 30% of cases of lung cancer reported. Doctors examine patients the medical histories of patients and perform medical procedures such as CT scan or chest X-ray to determine the type of cancer.


Lung cancer is primarily caused by smoking with 90% male and 80% female lung cancer patients reporting they were cigarette smokers. Smoking increases significantly the chances of contracting lung cancer by 25%. Exposure to radon is the second largest causes of lung cancer. It is an odorless gas that originates from decaying uranium from the soil. High levels of the gas are often found in lower levels of houses and basements of buildings. Venting systems are installed for basement houses with high levels of radon to maintain its level to minimal levels. People who work with uranium, silica, asbestos or nonferrous have high levels of contracting lung cancer. In addition, exposure to coke fuel used in blast furnaces and foundries increase the risk of contracting lung cancer (Benatar, 2001). However a few people are diagnosed with lung cancer although they never smoked, have never worked with lung cancer-causing agents or never inhaled secondhand smoke. Under this group of people, women are slightly more at risk of contracting lung cancer as compared to men. Doctors have attributed the difference to the role of hormones.


The average 5 years rate of survival for lung cancer patients is 49% if the when the cancer is limited to the lungs when it is diagnosed. Problem arises when lung cancer is discovered during its early stage. Where the cancer is discovered during its last stage when it has already spread, the 5 years rate of survival reduces significantly. Surgery, drug therapy and radiation are recommended for patients of lung cancer diagnosed during the early stages (Ravenel, 2012). To reduce chances of contracting lung cancer, keeping off from hazardous jobs and smoking are the easiest ways. Scientists and medical researchers are conducting research to discover new treatment and ways of increasing the rate of survival for the deadly form of cancer.


If either CT scan or X-ray turns positive, a biopsy is performed on the tumor to confirm that the tumor is cancerous. Bronchoscopy is the most widely used biopsy for lung cancer patients. Doctors insert a tube to the lungs via the mouth to establish the presence of cancer. Trained radiologists insert a needle to the lungs depending on the CT scan information. Where the tumor is small and difficult to be reached by a needle or endoscopy, performing a surgery is the only solution (International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer, 2011). Once the biopsy confirms the tumor is cancerous, further surgeries are inevitable to assess the extent to which the lung cancer has spread to other body organs. Oncologists apply staging for evaluating the magnitude of severity of the lung cancer and prognosis on patients for determining the best treatment method. Stages are defined depending on the size of the tumor, affected lymph nodes, availability of metastatic tumors and penetration. Stage 1 lung cancer patients have 50% chances of surviving for over five years after diagnosis. The rate of survival reduces significantly for patients in stage II, III and IV.


Benatar, S. R. (January 01, 2001). The coming catastrophe in international health: An analogy with lung cancer. International Journal, 56, 4, 611-631.

International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer. (January 01, 2011). Proceedings of the 11th Annual targeted therapies in lung cancer symposium. Journal of Thoracic Oncology, 6, 11.)

Ravenel, J. G. (January 01, 2012). Symposium on CT screening for lung cancer. Journal of Thoracic Imaging, 27, 4.)