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Lung cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the lungs and causes abnormal activity in lung tissue. Unlike healthy cells, cancer cells begin to multiply uncontrollably, killing healthy tissue around them and causing disruptions in the normal activities of healthy cells. These abnormal cancer cells group together to form tumors as they increase in quantity.
Maryland Lung Cancer Diagnosis Malpractice
Although the diagnosis and treatment of all types of cancer can give rise to a medical malpractice lawsuit in Maryland, lung cancer is among the most common.
Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, and is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths overall for men and women, accounting for about 27% of all cancer-related deaths. It is most often associated with smoking cigarettes- but can be caused by a variety of factors.
According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer results in about 158,040 deaths in the United States every year. A positive prognosis for lung cancer is much more likely in cases that are detected early, with about a 50% survival rate versus a 5% survival rate for advanced stage lung cancer.
It is part of a doctor’s required duty of care to properly assess and screen for lung cancer. This includes ordering the right tests and properly interpreting the test results. Failure to order diagnostic tests such as x-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, or biopsies, can result in a missed or delayed lung cancer diagnosis – with an associated delay in treatment and a reduction in the change of survival.
Types of Lung Cancer
There are two main types of lung cancer: small cell and non-small cell lung cancer. They are classified based on the size of the cancerous cells and the treatment options for each type.
Small cell lung cancer accounts for about 15% of all lung cancers. It is named after the size of the cancer cells when viewed under a microscope. Small cell lung cancer is most associated with cigarette smoking. The American Cancer Society notes that it is rare to develop small cell lung cancer without some history of cigarette smoking
Non-small cell lung cancer accounts for about 85% of all lung cancers. There are three main subgroups of non-small cell lung cancer: Adenocarcinoma, Squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.
Adenocarcinoma is a type of lung cancer found in the outer parts of the lungs, and it begins to grow in cells that would normally secrete mucus. It is the most common type of lung cancer for non-smokers, although it is also common in smokers. It accounts for about 40% of all lung cancers.
Squamous cell lung cancer begins in squamous cells, or the flat cells insides the airways of the lungs. Squamous cell accounts for about 30% of all lung cancers.
Large cell lung cancer is the fastest growing type of lung cancer. It can begin anywhere in the lung, and grows and spreads quickly making it the most difficult one to treat. Large cell lung cancer accounts for about 15% of all lung cancers.
Another type of lung cancer involves carcinoid tumors. Carcinoid tumors are the slowest growing type of lung cancer, and are very rare.
Symptoms of Lung Cancer
Although there are different types of lung cancer with different symptoms, some common symptoms of lung cancer include:
- A chronic cough that won’t go away
- Coughing up blood or a change in color or amount of mucus during coughs
- Reoccurring or constant chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Repeated lung infections
Causes of Lung Cancer
Cancer is caused by a mutation in a person’s genes, but this mutation can be the result of a variety of factors, including the person’s inherited genes or changes in response to environmental factors.
Some causes and risk factors of lung cancer are:
- Smoking tobacco
- Air pollution
- Exposure to other carcinogens (cancer-causing materials) like radioactive materials, diesel exhaust, and chemicals like silica, coal products, or arsenic
- Exposure to radiation
- Family history of lung cancer
Asbestos and Lung Cancer
Asbestos is a group of fiber-like minerals resistant to heat and chemicals that are used in many industries like textile plants, mills, shipbuilding industries, and places where insulation is used. Inhalation of asbestos comes with an increased risk of lung cancer: The longer the time spent around asbestos the greater the risk.
Government regulations have limited asbestos exposure in buildings and in workplaces. The top occupations most exposed to asbestos are: construction worker, firefighter, miner, industrial worker, power plant worker, and shipyard worker.
If you are exposed to asbestos on the job, you may be eligible for compensation.
Radon and Lung Cancer
Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the decay of natural elements in rocks and soil. Without proper ventilation, buildings and structures underground, including mines and even basements, the concentration of radon that can lead to lung cancer. Radiation from radon can change and damage DNA, leading to cancer- producing gene mutations.
Diagnosing Lung Cancer
Your doctor may start by eliminating other possible conditions, such as lung infections. The most common way to identify lung cancer is through a chest x-ray that will detect tumors or masses in the lungs.
If lung cancer is detected by your general practitioner, you should be referred to a specialist for continued care.
Doctors could order a computerized tomography (CT) scan to create a detailed image of the inside of your lungs, and may order a bronchoscopy (a procedure that removes a sample of cells from the lungs) and a biopsy.
Once the cancer is diagnosed, the doctor will generally classify it by assigning it a stage.
Lung Cancer Treatment
Treatments for lung cancer depend on the type and stage of the cancer. Treatment options can include surgery to remove tumors and chemotherapy or radiation therapy to kill off cancer cells.
Lung Cancer Malpractice In Maryland
If you have developed lung cancer after being exposed to substances like asbestos or radon, or if your doctor has acted negligently in diagnosing and treating your lung cancer, contact us today for a free consultation and learn more about your legal options.