8 Mar 2012

Lung Cancer 101 | Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)

What is NSCLC?

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) usually begins as a small cluster of abnormal cells that grow in the lining of the bronchi-tubes. It can also begin growing in other parts of the lungs. These cancer cells then divide without control, forming a growth or a primary tumor.

As the primary tumor grows, here's what can happen:

            Cancer cells break away and spread through the blood or lymph system to nearby           organs
            Fluid containing cancer cells also builds up in the space surrounding the lungs. This          causes a collection of fluid called a pleural effusion
            This spreading of cancer cells and/or collection of fluid may sometimes be referred to    by your health care team as stage IIIB NSCLC

Cancer cells can also spread to distant sites, such as the liver, brain, or bones. This spreading of cancer is called metastasis and may sometimes be referred to by your health care team as advanced, metastatic, or stage IV NSCLC.

Even though the cancer has spread to a new part of the body, the cells come from the original primary lung cancer. So it is still considered NSCLC.

What are the types of NSCLC?

Most lung cancers (about 85%) are classified as non-small cell lung cancers. They tend to spread more slowly than small cell lung cancer.

There are 3 main types of non-small cell lung cancer. These types are based on the kind of cells found in the cancer. The tumor may differ in size, shape, and location depending on the type.

    Squamous cell carcinoma: Affects approximately 25% of people with NSCLC. This cancer begins in squamous cells and tends to be found near the bronchus
    Nonsquamous cell carcinoma: Affects approximately 75% of people with NSCLC
        Adenocarcinoma: Cancer that is usually found in the tissues of the lung
        Large cell undifferentiated carcinoma: Cancer that can start in any part of the lung. It often grows and spreads quickly. Cells are large and look abnormal under a microscope.

The type of NSCLC you have may make a difference in the type of treatment your doctor recommends.

What Does Avastin Treat?

Avastin is approved for:

            Metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) when started with the first or second intravenous             5-FU-based chemotherapy for metastatic cancer.

            Advanced nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in combination with         carboplatin and paclitaxel in people who have not received chemotherapy for their            advanced disease.

            Metastatic kidney cancer (mRCC) when used with interferon alfa.

            Glioblastoma (GBM) in adult patients whose cancer has progressed after prior    treatment. The effectiveness of Avastin in GBM is based on tumor response. Currently, no data have shown whether or not Avastin improves disease-related symptoms or survival in people previously treated for GBM.

Possible Serious Side Effects

Everyone reacts differently to Avastin therapy. So it’s important to know what the side effects are. Although some people may have a life-threatening side effect, most do not.

Your doctor will stop treatment if any serious side effects occur. Be sure to contact your health care team if you have symptoms related to these side effects.

The most serious side effects (not common, but sometimes fatal):

            Gastrointestinal (GI) perforation. A hole that develops in your stomach or intestine.        Symptoms include pain in the abdomen, nausea, vomiting, constipation, or fever.

            Wounds that don’t heal. A cut made during surgery can be slow to heal or may not fully             heal. Avastin should not be used for at least 28 days before or after surgery and until   surgical wounds are fully healed.

            Serious bleeding. This includes vomiting or coughing up blood; bleeding in the stomach, brain, or spinal cord; and vaginal bleeding. If you recently coughed up blood or had           serious bleeding, do not take Avastin

Other possible serious side effects:

    Abnormal passage in the body. This forms from one part of the body to another and can sometimes be fatal.

    Stroke or heart problems. These include blood clots, mini-stroke, heart attack, and chest pain. These can sometimes be fatal.

    Severe high blood pressure. Blood pressure that severely spikes or shows signs of affecting the brain. Blood pressure should be monitored every 2 to 3 weeks while on Avastin and after stopping treatment

    Nervous system and vision problems. Symptoms include high blood pressure, headache, seizure, sluggishness, confusion, and blindness.

    Kidney problems. These may be caused by too much protein in the urine and can sometimes be fatal.

    Infusion reactions. These may include difficulty breathing, chest pain, and excessive sweating. Your doctor or nurse will monitor you for signs of infusion reactions.

    Fertility issues for women. Avastin could cause a woman’s ovaries to stop working and may impair her ability to have children

Additional Safety Information

The most common side effects of Avastin are:
·         Nosebleeds
·         Headache
·         High blood pressure
·         Inflammation of the nose
·         Too much protein in the urine
·         Taste change
·         Dry skin
·         Rectal bleeding
·         Tear production disorder
·         Back pain
·         Inflammation of the skin

Avastin is not right for everyone. Talk to your doctor if you:

    Are pregnant, may be pregnant, or are breast-feeding. Avastin may harm the fetus or a child that is nursing. If you stop Avastin, you should keep using birth control for at least 6 months after your last dose before trying to become pregnant
    Are undergoing surgery. Don’t take Avastin for at least 28 days before or after surgery and until surgical wounds are fully healed

Read the whole story: NSCLC

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