Lung cancer refers to the growth of a cancerous tumor in the lung. It is the number one cause of cancer death in men and women over the age of 35. Lung cancer has, in fact, taken more lives than colon, lymph, prostate and breast cancer combined.
Lung cancer originating from the end of the bronchial epithelium makes up 90% of all lung cancer cases. Typical treatment options include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, however, treatment options are often limited because of the stage of the cancer at the time of diagnosis. Many times surgery and radiation are not viable options as the tumors are proximal to vital structures in the lung tissue.
2 Categories of Lung Cancer
- Primary Lung Cancer – Cancer that originates in the lung tissue.
- Secondary Lung Cancer or Lung Metastasis – this is cancer from a different part of the body that has spread to the lungs and continues to grow there.
2 Main Types of Lung Cancer
Non-small Cell Lung Cancer which has three subtypes:
- Squamous Cell- originates in the larger bronchi and can spread by extension and lymph node metastasis;
- Large Cell Carcinoma – usually develops near the surface of the lungs;
- Adenocarcinoma – commonly found in the mucous glands. Adenocarcinoma can spread through the blood stream.
Small Cell Lung Cancer which is usually more aggressive than non-small cell and can spread quickly. This form of lung cancer is associated with smokers. The combined 5-year survival rate for all stages of lung cancer is only 15%. If treated early before it has spread to lymph nodes or other organs with surgery, the average 5-year survival is about 50%. However, only 15% of people with lung cancer are diagnosed at this early, localized stage.
Common Symptoms Associated With Lung Cancer
- Bad cough that doesn’t go away
- Coughing up blood
- Difficulty in breathing
- Arm, shoulder or chest pain
- Weight loss
- Bone pain
- Swelling of the face
- Pleural effusion
Risk Factors Associated with Lung Cancer
- Smoking tobacco
- Second hand smoke
- Women who smoke are at a greater risk than men
- Exposure to radon gas
- Exposure to asbestos
- Runs in family
- Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol
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