Lung Cancer

From Health Facts
Jump to: navigation, search
Latest Edit: Hector 2013-12-05 (EDT)

Lung Cancer the most common type of cancer and causes 1/3 of all cancer deaths. The most common cause for lung cancer is smoking cigarettes, cigars and pipes and passively inhaling second hand smoke. It is also a common site for metastasis of other cancers, especially breast cancer. Lung cancer is determined by histopathology into four sub-types: Small cell lung carcinoma, large cell lung carcinoma, adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.[1] The location, clinical course and associated complications vary for each. In addition to the above there are uncommon tumors such as bronchial carcinoid tumors, cystic adenoid carcinomas, carcinosarcomas, and mesotheliomas.

Lung Cancer
Causes Environmental Toxins, Smoking, Family history
See Also Women's Health, Oncology
Books Books on Women's Health, Books on Oncology
Articles Articles on Women's Health, Articles on Oncology (Cancer)

Naturopathic Assessment

Causal Factors

In order to stimulate the innate ability of the body to heal the causes of disease must be identified and addressed. Lung cancer may be a primary cancer or may be a metastasis of other cancers. Factors that are associated with lung cancer include:

Article "Glucosamine May Lower Lung Cancer Risk", NMJ, [1], 2011 October
Article Pharmacologically Active Natural Compounds for Lung Cancer , Alt Med; 2004;Vol9(4)
Article Soy Intake and Decreased Risk of Lung Cancer Death in Women , April 2013 Natural Medicine [2]


  • The risk of lung cancer from smoking is cumulative based upon the number of years smoking. The risk is related to cumulative dose causing long term cellular damage. The current stats indicate that 14% of all people who smoke more than two packs of cigarrettes per day will die of lung cancer. After 10 years of smoking one pack per day the incidence of death from lung cancer becomes higher than that of non-smokers.[2]


  • Asbestos exposure, especially in smokers increases the risk of lung cancer. Asbestos is also causally linked malignant mesothelioma.
  • Heavy metal exposure to arsenic, nickel and other heavy metals increases the risk of small cell lung cancer.
  • Exposure to environmental chemicals and substances such as radon, chromium compounds, chloromethyl ether and air pollution exposure increases the risk of small cell lung cancer.


  • Family History
  • There is no genetic link to lung cancer development.
  • Gestational Factors
  • Gestational factors involve those whereby the pregnant woman smokes and thus increases the risk of birth defects in her unborn child.


Article 54-Year-Old Woman With Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer , 2012 July;Vol8(7) NDNR [3]
  • Lung damage from previous lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are both associated with increased risk of developing lung cancer.[2]
  • Breast cancer can metastasize to the lungs but is not in and of itself a separate cancer. However, lung cancer itself can lead to another type of lung cancer. Cancer of the head and neck and/or esophagus associate with an increased risk of lung cancer simply due to being exposed to cigarrette smoke and the damage it causes to cells in these body parts.

Diagnostic Tests

The different types of lung cancer are often initially detected based upon patients reporting symptoms (hoarseness, cough that is new or has changed, weight loss, chest pain, pneumonias that do not resolve). Often lung cancer is found when it is wide-spread, weeks after the person stopped smoking because of symptomatic difficulty with breathing.

  • Imaging Studies that may be indicated include a chest X-ray, CT scan of the chest and abdomen, MRI, and then obtaining proof of pathology via sputum sample, bronchoscopy or biopsy of lymph nodes.
  • Confirmation of histopathological information relating to the type of cancerous cells is done via lymph node or transbronchial needle biopsy, sputum cytology, bronchoscopy or mediastinoscopy. PET scans and bone marrow aspiration and biopsy are also emerging to determine metastatic spread to distal areas of the body. Proteomic approaches to detection include protein gene product 9.5 (PGP9.5 or ubiquitin carboxyl-terminal esterase L1) and serum amyloid A.[1]
  • Staging of lung cancer is done to determine which modalities of treatment are best suited for the specific histopathology of the cancer.[2]
  • Active screening for early detection is rare, and if completed regularly, consists of chest X-rays and blood labs for tumor markers, sputum cytology and CT Scanning. CT scanning gives information about the extent of invasion of the primary tumor, of the presence of lung fluid or pleural effusion, and whether lymph nodes are involved.[2]

Naturopathic Treatment Strategy

Article "Benefits of Integrative Cancer Treatments for Lung Cancer Patients", NMJ, [4], 2011 December

The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body. A treatment strategy is the most effective when it addresses the underlying causal factors and when it follows the naturopathic therapeutic order. The treatment strategy for colorectal cancer is first prevention, followed by treatments to address the cancer directly or to support conventional treatments and to improve overall quality of life.

The regimens of treatment for lung cancer vary with the type of lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer involves chemotherapy combined with radiation therapy if the tumor is limited to the early stages. In summary the treatment chosen is based upon information from the performance status, age, gender, degree of weight loss, and staging of the cancer

It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.


Prevention involves addressing any of the causal factors before they cause cancer, for example:

  • Not smoking, smoking cessation, and avoiding second hand smoke inhalation are the keys to preventing lung cancer.
  • While historically important, exposure to asbestos is less a concern today, but it is still a prima facie cause of mesothelioma of the lung.
  • Most lung cancers can recur to the central nervous system in 10 to 20% of patients treated with combined modality therapy. [2] Recurrence is often difficult to prevent.

Cancer Specific Treatments

Article IV Treatments for Lung Cancer, Vital Link; 2007 Fall
Article Fish Oil Supplement Improves Quality of Life in Patients with Lung Cancer, NMJ, [5], 2012 July
Article Shark Cartilage Fails to Benefit Lung Cancer Patients , 2011 March Natural Medicine [6]

Follow the general guidelines for cancer specific treatments. Additional treatments that are specific to lung cancer include:

  • Increasing foods high in antioxidants such as red raspberries as they are high in Ellagic acid.
  • Supplementation
Article Glucosamine May Lower Lung Cancer Risk, NDNR; 2012 April

Supportive Care

Follow the general guidelines for supportive care especially when conventional treatments such as surgery or radiation therapy are chosen. Specific considerations for lung cancer include:

  • Supportive Care During Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy to lung cancer lesions often causes inflammation of the pleura, pneumonitis, or esophagitis. These three conditions do not develop simultaneously and are directly related to the location of applied radiation therapy. There are a number of things that can be done to support the lungs and the person during radiation therapy:

  • Andrographis and Quercitin both support the health of normal tissues while augmenting radiation effects against abnormal tissues
  • Honey before, during and after radiation to decrease esophageal inflammation
  • Aloe vera juice to decrease esophageal irritation
  • Vitamin E after radiation is completed to prevent post-radiation-induced esophagitis
  • Calendula (Calendula officinalis) and Lavender (Lavandula) essential oil combined as a topical spray for prevention and relief of radiation burns to the skin
  • Supportive Care During Combined Modality Therapy

Combined modality therapy was first defined as radiation therapy and surgery. Of late it has also come to include different drug combinations such as cisplatin and vinbalstine or carboplatin and paclitaxel. Also included in combined modality therapy are drug combinations in a weekly dose during daily radiation therapy treatment. Depending on the modalities combined for treatment, the supportive care can vary widely.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Ruddon RW (2007) Cancer Biology 4th ed. Oxford University Press.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Casciato DA (2004) Manual of Clinical Oncology 5th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.