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What Is Bronchoalveolar Carcinoma?

Chest x-rays can be used to help diagnose bronchoalveolar carcinoma.
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  • Written By: Dulce Corazon
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 20 August 2014
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Bronchoalveolar carcinoma (BAC), also referred to as bronchioalveolar carcinoma, is a rare type of lung cancer. It grows and spreads mostly in the walls of the alveolar sacs of the lungs, with no tendency to metastasize to other parts of the body. The alveoli are tiny sacs found at the end portion of the lungs where oxygen exchange usually takes place. This type of cancer is generally fatal, and mortality is often high. Incidence of bronchoalveolar carcinoma is frequently seen in non-smokers and middle-aged women, particularly of Asian origin.

The precise cause of bronchoalveolar carcinoma remains unknown, but studies suggest that exposure to harmful substances may contribute to its development. Examples of these substances are radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas, and asbestos, a mineral containing fibers that can penetrate deep into the lungs when inhaled. Asbestos has also been implicated in many cases of mesothelioma, a cancer that grows on the lining of the lungs and other organs as a result of asbestos exposure. Infection with certain viruses and bacteria may also lead to bronchoalveolar carcinoma.

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Coughing is the most noted symptom of bronchoalveolar carcinoma. As the cancer advances, coughing can turn from mild to severe and to intensely violent, which may be accompanied by blood in the sputum. Weakness, anemia, seizures, and vision changes may also be observed in some patients. Other common manifestations of the disease include persistent chest pain, weight loss, shortness of breath, and repeated lung infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Bronchitis is the inflammation of the airways' mucous membranes, and pneumonia is inflammation of the lung tissues.

During the early stage of the cancer, patients may not have any noticeable symptoms. This is why most of them are diagnosed at the later stage of the disease, resulting in delayed medical intervention. Diagnosis of bronchoalveolar carcinoma can be done through the use of several diagnostic imaging tools. These include a chest X-ray and computer tomography (CT) scan of the chest.

Possible treatment alternatives for bronchoalveolar carcinoma are chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. Surgery is frequently an option to remove affected regions of the lungs. Due to the aggressiveness of this type of cancer, however, formation of new growths is often difficult to prevent. A lung transplant may also be considered to prolong one’s life. Compared with other types of lung cancer, the survival rate of most patients with bronchoalveolar carcinoma in the late stage, is generally poor.

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burcinc
Post 3

@burcidi-- At this point, close to nothing is known of the causes of bronchoalveolar cancer because it's rare and there isn't much research on it. It's probably caused by environmental factors, but genetics probably have something to do with it too.

I had surgery for BAC and right now I'm on three different medications. I'm stable for now. I never smoked in my life and have not had any chemical exposure that I know of.

fify
Post 2

@burcidi-- I don't think it's genetic because aside from my father, no one else in our family or extended family has BAC. No one has had any type of lung cancer at all.

From what I've read of people's experiences online though, I've noticed that almost all people with BAC are non-smokers. So smoking clearly has nothing to do with BAC.

My dad had a potential exposure to asbestos during his younger years. We are thinking that this is probably what has caused the cancer, but we'll never know for sure.

burcidi
Post 1

My great-uncle passed away from BAC lung carcinoma. Recently, my cousin has also been diagnosed with it. This makes me wonder, is this genetic?

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