Girl blowing dandelion

Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer is one of the most serious kinds of cancer.  In fact, more people die from cancer of the lung each year in the United States than from breast, colon, and prostate cancer combined. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 1.1 million people die each year from lung cancer.  Early detection and treatment are important factors for survival.

What is Lung Cancer

Lung cancer occurs when the cells in the lungs begin to divide and multiply in an uncontrolled manner.  These cells can grow to form tumors and can spread to other parts of the body as well.

Types of Lung Cancer

There are two main types of lung cancer, small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.  Non-small cell lung cancer (nsclc) is more common than small cell lung cancer (sclc) and accounts for about 80% of all lung cancers.  Furthermore, sclc tends to grow and spread more slowly than nsclc.  Non-small cell lung cancer is divided into three types: squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.

Causes of Lung Cancer

Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer.  Not everyone who smokes will get lung cancer.  Only about 1 out of every 10 smokers develope lung cancer.  However, about 87% of people with cancer of the lung are current or past smokers.  For this reason, quitting smoking will greatly reduce the chance of getting lung cancer.  Radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer.  Radon gas is formed during the natural break down of uranium in the ground.  The EPA reports that nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the U.S. has a high level of radon.  Homes can be tested for radon and repaired if radon levels are too high.  Other causes of lung cancer include environmental and occupational exposure to substances like asbestos, arsenic, and other chemicals.

Lung Cancer Treatment

Treatment for lung cancer may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and/or laser therapy.  There are other therapies being tested such as photodynamic therapy, chemoprevention therapy, and new combinations of treatments.  The type of treatment needed depends on a number of factors such as size and location of the tumor and if it has spread to other parts of the body.