Lung Cancer

Introduction

Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer among all the cancers. It is the second most common cancer in males and third most common cancer found in females in Singapore.

It is mainly caused by smoking, including second-hand smoking, air pollution and less commonly caused by occupational hazards.

It is more commonly found in advanced stages where it is incurable but still very treatable due to recent rapid discovery of newer drugs and treatment options. When in advanced stages, it usually spreads to the other parts of the lung, bones, brain and liver. It usually begins with very little symptoms which is why by the time it is discovered, it would have progressed to a more advanced stage.

Symptoms

Different individuals may present with different symptoms and not all symptoms in the list will affect every individual. Some of these may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent cough
  • Coughing out blood
  • Pain in the ribs or back or other parts of bone
  • Recurrent chest infections
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Persistent lumps in the neck or armpit
  • Weakness in arms or legs
  • Persistent headaches

These symptoms are not specific and may also be caused by a variety of other reasons. Rather, it is the constellation of symptoms that your doctor will assess before planning further investigations. It will be best to speak to your doctor if you are concerned with any of these.

Diagnosis

Early and rapid diagnosis is vital because the sooner you can be treated, the better the chance to kill the cancer before it gets larger or spread further. Typically this will involve a number of tests which can be arranged together to ensure treatment can be started as soon as possible once the diagnosis is confirmed.

These will include baseline blood tests to check your body function and fitness for therapy, full body imaging which may involve one or more scans and most importantly a biopsy which can be done on any abnormality found on imaging.

Treatment Options

We offer all the up-to-date treatment options in keeping with the latest advances. We will discuss the best options available based on the staging of the cancer with every individual. No two cancers are the same and no two individuals are the same. Therefore the treatment should also be highly personalized.

Treatments option may include one or more of the following modalities:  Surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy.

The choice and sequence of the therapies will be planned at the outset to ensure the best outcome for your lung cancer.

Prevention and Screening

Lung cancer screening involved mainly doing a low-dose CT scan of the chest in people with smoking history. A study had shown that this may be effective in reducing the risks of death from lung cancer. It is best to discuss this with an oncologist so that you can better understand the pros and cons of such approach.

The best prevention of course would be to minimize exposure to the main risk factors for lung cancer.  This includes:

  • Stopping smoking
  • Avoid second-hand smoke
  • Ensure a safe and protected work environment especially when at risk of exposure to the following chemicals: Arsenic, radon, chromium, nickel, soot, tar or asbestos
  • Reduce exposure to polluted air by wearing the appropriate masks especially during times of haze
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