Squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs?

Definition - What is Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Lungs?

A cancer of the lungs is commonly referred to as bronchial carcinoma among medical professionals. However, these differ in the tissue type of the cancer.

Adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas are common in the lungs.

Adenocarcinoma is cancer that arises from glandular tissue.

Squamous epithelium describes the uppermost cell layer, which seals the skin and mucous membranes of the human body. Cancer can also develop from this.

Whether it is actually a squamous cell carcinoma in the lungs can only be found out by examining cancer cells under a microscope.

Before starting the following article, for general information, you can first take a look at the structure of the squamous epithelium and the main page of lung cancer. You can find information about this at:

  • What is an epithelium?
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma - How Dangerous Is It?
  • Lung Cancer - You Should Know That!

Course of the disease in squamous cell carcinoma of the lung

The course of the disease is very different from one individual to the next, as it also depends on other factors in addition to the stage of the tumor.

This includes, for example, the response to therapy as an important criterion. It is also very important whether the planned therapy is well tolerated. In some cases, for example, chemotherapy is so poorly tolerated that it has to be stopped.

Age and other physical condition also play a role in the course of the disease.

As the cancer progresses, the tumor robs the body of more and more strength. In addition, the function of the lungs is restricted, so that breathing difficulties increase.

Prognosis - This is the survival rate / chance of recovery in squamous cell carcinoma of the lung

In general it can be said that the chances of a cure for squamous cell carcinoma in the lungs are rather poor compared to some other cancers. A main reason for this is that lung cancer is usually recognized very late because there are hardly any symptoms for a long time.

However, the chances of recovery can look completely different on an individual basis - e.g. if the tumor is operable, the therapies are well tolerated and the treatments respond very successfully.

A very important criterion for the chances of recovery is the stage. The smaller the stage, the better the chances of survival.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among men. Many lung cancers would be preventable if there was less smoking.

You can find this information in more detail on our main "Lung Cancer Prognosis" page. Also read: Lung cancer prognosis

Metastasis / spread of squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs

Lung cancer is a cancer that often and happily metastasizes. Since the tumor is usually diagnosed late, in many cases a metastasis already exists at the time of diagnosis.

Since a metastasis has already spread to cancer throughout the body, a cure for lung cancer is no longer possible. Lung tumors like to metastasize to the liver, brain, adrenal glands, and skeleton.

At this point we also recommend the following article: What are metastases?

Life expectancy in squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs

The individual stages of squamous cell carcinoma must also be taken into account in the survival rates.

In general, 15% of people who have been newly diagnosed with lung cancer are still alive after 5 years with lung cancer.

However, the survival rate is highly dependent on how early the cancer was diagnosed. In the early stages, 5-year survival rates are between 25 and 50%.

Often, however, lung cancer is only recognized when it can no longer be operated on.

In order to be able to detect squamous cell carcinoma early and thus promote the chances of a cure for the disease, it is important to detect it early. For this reason, it is very important to read the following article: How do you recognize lung cancer?

I recognize squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs from these symptoms

Lung cancers, whether or not squamous cell carcinoma, lead to the same symptoms.

In the early stages, lung cancer causes little or no symptoms. Therefore, in the majority of cases, the disease is unfortunately recognized late.

Cough, shortness of breath and chest pain are common but unspecific complaints. This means that they can also be explained by a variety of other diseases.

Blood in the cough can be caused by lung cancer. As a rule, however, this is a symptom that only appears in the late course of the disease. If the tumor is in certain places or has spread to other structures in the chest, a variety of other symptoms can occur.

In a few cases, the lung cancer is located in the tip of the lung and damages nerve fibers in the neck as it grows. This causes nerve pain in the arm and between the ribs. When sympathetic nerves are affected, the eyelid droops and the pupil is constricted.

In addition, damage to the first rib and the first thoracic vertebra and swelling of the arm can occur.

Another indication for over 40-year-olds that lung cancer may be present is recent asthma and bronchitis, as well as recurring pneumonia and colds, which can hardly be treated. In this case, lung cancer should be excluded as the cause.

You may also be interested in the following article about the signs of lung cancer: How do you recognize lung cancer?

Treatment of squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs

The therapy depends on the stage of the cancer. In many cases, lung cancer is unfortunately only recognized very late, so that radical therapy is required.

In some cases it is unfortunately no longer possible to cure the cancer. There are then only options to alleviate the symptoms with various treatments and to extend the remaining life.

In order to have a chance of healing, squamous cell carcinoma in the lungs must be surgically removed. In addition, the operation is supplemented with radiation and chemotherapy. Only in stage 1 this is not necessary.

Depending on the stage, radiation or chemotherapy is carried out before the operation in order to shrink and weaken the tumor.

Stage 4 and some cases in stage 3 cannot be operated on and therefore cannot be cured. Chemotherapy is then carried out here. This is supplemented with pain therapy and other treatments to improve the quality of life of the person affected.

The exact and groundbreaking description of the therapy adapted to the individual stages can be found at: Lung cancer therapy

Immunotherapy for squamous cell carcinoma of the lung

In immunotherapy, the body's immune system is stimulated or supported by drugs in order to recognize and destroy cancer cells.

Immunotherapy is still relatively new in the fight against cancer. Various drugs have been developed to treat lung cancer.

However, drugs that are used in immunotherapy against lung cancer are very specific and therefore cannot be used generally, but only under certain conditions. In the next few years there will probably be further developments in this area so that cancer can be fought even better with immunotherapy.

In addition to the therapy for squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs, you can also help support the immune system yourself. You can find out how you can do this at: How can you strengthen the immune system?

Chemotherapy for squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs

In chemotherapy, various drugs are given that attack and kill rapidly dividing cells, especially cancer cells.

For lung cancer, for example, a combination with the chemotherapeutic cisplatin is used. The administration of chemotherapeutic agents must be repeated several times over a certain period of time for sufficient success.

The chemotherapy is mainly carried out after an operation to kill any remaining cancer cells and prevent the tumor from recurring.

However, due to their strong effects on the body, chemotherapy often leads to side effects. In some cases chemotherapy has to be interrupted or stopped as a result.

We also have a main page for this. If you have to undergo chemotherapy for lung cancer, it is advisable to study the possible side effects beforehand. You can find them at: Side effects of chemotherapy for lung cancer

Irradiation for squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs

Radiation after an operation, like chemotherapy, is supposed to destroy remaining cancer cells and prevent them from recurring.

For this purpose, areas in the chest where the tumor could have spread are irradiated. Irradiations must also be applied several times in order to be useful. However, they can also lead to side effects.

These articles might also interest you:

  • Treatment with radiation therapy
  • Behaviors during radiation therapy

Stages of squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs

The staging is based on the size of the cancer and how far it has spread to lymph nodes or other organs. It is divided into stages 0-4.

In stage 0 the tumor is still very small and only affects the top layer. In stage 1, the tumor is less than 5 cm. In stage 2, the tumor is larger and lymph nodes near the tumor may be infiltrated.

Stage 3 also affects lymph nodes, which are a bit removed from the actual lung cancer. The tumor is also larger and may have grown into other structures, such as the esophagus. As soon as there is a metastasis, it is stage 4.

The staging is also called TNM classification or staging in everyday clinical practice. You can find more about this at:

  • What is the TNM system and what is its significance?
  • Lung cancer staging

Causes of squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs

Smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer. Smoking is responsible for around 85% of lung cancers. Lung cancer develops over several decades of continuous smoking. Passive smoking also damages the lungs and can lead to the development of cancer.

It is the same with industrial and traffic emissions. Lung cancer can be caused by various substances, which is why lung cancer occurs more frequently in some occupational groups. A working substance is e.g. Asbestos. But chromate-4 compounds can also cause lung cancer.

Regardless of external influences, there are still genetic factors that increase the risk of developing lung cancer. The risk is increased if one of the parents is diagnosed with lung cancer.

However, certain previous damage to the lungs can also facilitate the development of lung cancer.

At this point you can also read general information on smoking:

  • Illnesses related to smoking
  • How to quit smoking

Diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs

If lung cancer is suspected, an X-ray and a CT scan of the chest are done. This allows the lungs to be mapped very well so that lung cancer can be detected.

A bronchoscopy is also performed. In a bronchoscopy, the bronchi are examined with a flexible camera through the windpipe.

With video-assisted thoracoscopy, a minimally invasive procedure on the chest, a small sample of the tumor tissue can be taken. This is then examined with a microscope. This makes it possible to determine what kind of cancer it is, which in turn is crucial for therapy.

In addition, a function test of the lungs is carried out, especially if the tumor is being operated on.

Finally, further imaging tests are carried out to rule out metastases, such as an ultrasound of the liver.

On you can read the respective articles for all the presented diagnostic procedures, such as: Pulmonary Function Test - How is it done?