Lung cancer occurs when uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells interferes with the function of the lungs, causing tumors to grow. Few cancers inflict more damage on people than lung cancer. It causes more deaths than prostate, colon and breast cancers combined.
The news isn’t all bad when it comes to lung cancer, however. Many of the causes of lung cancer are very preventable, and it can be treated, particularly if the disease is detected early on.
Causes and Symptoms
Most people assume that lung cancer is caused by smoking. Though the disease can develop unrelated to smoking, this is the rare exception rather than the rule. Smoking by and large is the main cause of lung cancer. That’s why it’s so important to quit if you smoke and to avoid exposure to secondhand smoke if you're a non-smoker.
Lung cancer doesn’t present signs or symptoms until the later stages of the disease. When lung cancer does present symptoms, common ones include chronic cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, hoarseness, blood when coughing and frequent infections. In some cases, symptoms might have nothing to do with the lungs, such as unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite, bone pain, headaches or blood clots.
Treatment of Lung Cancer
Treatment for lung cancer will vary based on the particular type of cancer, the stage the cancer is in and other concerns based on the person's medical history. Usually, treatment options for lung cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and targeted therapy.
SOURCES: National Lung Cancer Partnership; U.S. National Cancer Institute; American Lung Association
Approval indicated for NSCLC, medullary thyroid cancer, other thyroid cancers with RET gene alteration
Drug also approved to treat metastatic non-small cell lung cancer with ROS1-positive tumors