Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

Respiratory System Cancers

April 11, 2024

Learning Objective: Examine respiratory system cancers, including the signs, symptoms, etiology, diagnostic procedures, and treatments.
      Laryngeal and lung cancers are the most common cancers that impact the respiratory system. It is estimated that more than 12,000 people are diagnosed with laryngeal cancer yearly, and more than 3700 Americans die of it yearly. More than a half of million Americans have lung cancer. Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States.

FIGURE 26.7  Adult using a CPAP machine.

Laryngeal Cancer
Learning Objective: Discuss laryngeal cancer, including the signs, symptoms, etiology, diagnostic procedures, and treatments.
      Laryngeal cancer is throat cancer that affects the vocal cords and larynx (voice box). In most cases, laryngeal cancer develops in adults older than 50, and males are more likely to get it than females. The causes of laryngeal cancer include tobacco and alcohol use. Laryngeal cancer can cause the following conditions:
                 • A constant sore throat and painful swallowing
                 • Ear pain and a lump in the neck or throat
                 • Hoarseness
      After a physical exam, the provider may order a biopsy with laryngoscopy or endoscopy, a CT scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a positron emission tomography (PET) scan, a bone scan, and a barium swallow (or upper gastrointestinal series). Treatment consists of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.


Lung Cancer
Learning Objective: Discuss lung cancer, including the signs, symptoms, etiology, diagnostic procedures, and treatments.
      There are two main types of lung cancer: non–small cell and small cell. Non–small cell lung cancer is more prevalent. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.
      The leading cause of lung cancer is cigarette smoking. The longer a person has smoked and the more a person has smoked, the more likely it is that the individual will contract lung cancer. High exposure levels of asbestos, radiation, and pollution can also increase a person’s risk for lung cancer. Lung cancer can cause the following:
                 • A chronic, worsening cough with hemoptysis and constant chest pain
                 • Wheezing, breathlessness, shortness of breath, clubbing, and more frequent respiratory infections
                 • Fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, and swelling of the face and hands
Chest x-rays and CT scans, sputum cytology, bronchoscopy, and lung tissue biopsy are used to diagnose lung cancer. Treatment for lung cancer is based on the person’s health, the stage of the disease, and the person’s preferences. Treatments can include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted drug therapy, and surgery. Here are some common surgical options for lung cancer:
                 • Wedge resection: Removal of a small portion of the lung tissue. It includes the tumor and the healthy tissue on the edge of the tumor.
                 • Segmental resection: Removal of a larger portion or segment of the lung.
                 • Lobectomy: Removal of a lobe of the lung.
                 • Pneumonectomy: Removal of the entire lung.