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
Blood test promising in finding early-stage disease
Many more 10th graders who tried the devices were hooked on 'regular' cigarettes later, study found
EPA moves likely cut cases of lung and bladder cancer
Things you should know
About one-third of stage 3 patients alive after 5 years, a development called promising by oncologists
New biologic could help drive down the cost of care, agency says
Belly fat after menopause may boost risk of lung, gastrointestinal cancers, researchers report
Health coverage surged in states that expanded Medicaid, research finds
Increased odds only seemed to affect men or male smokers, study suggests
Researchers move 'a step forward,' assessing DNA fragments for colon, breast, ovarian and lung tumors
Esophageal, breast and lung cancer, among others, seen in postmenopausal women in large study