A patient’s guide to lung cancer
Know the basics on causes, symptoms, treatments and prevention.
Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. When cancer starts in the lungs, it is called lung cancer. Lung cancer, also known as carcinoma of the lung or pulmonary carcinoma begins in the lungs and may spread to the lymph nodes or other organs in the body, such as the brain.
Usually, lung cancer is grouped into two main types called small cell and non-small cell. These types of lung cancer grow differently and are treated differently. Non-small cell lung cancer is more common than small cell lung cancer.
About 80-90% of cases of lung cancer occur in people who smoke.
What causes lung cancer ?
The exact cause of lung cancer is unknown. Certain risk factors have been shown to play part in causing cells to become cancerous. Risk factors for lung cancer include :
- Smoking – cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer. People who smoke cigarettes are 15-30 times more likely to get lung cancer or die from lung cancer than people who do not smoke.
- Radon – this a natural occurring gas that comes from rocks and dirt. It can get trapped in houses and buildings. It cannot be seen, tasted or smelled. It causes about 20,000 cases of lung cancer each year, making it the second leading cause of lung cancer.
- Family history of lung cancer – people with a parent, sibling or child with lung cancer have an increased risk of the disease.
- Vitamin supplements – beta carotene supplements increase the risk of lung cancer, especially in smokers who smoke one or more packs a day.
Signs and symptoms
Lung cancer typically does not cause signs and symptoms in its earliest stages. Signs and symptoms of lung cancer occur only when the disease is advanced.
Signs and symptoms of lung cancer include :
- Coughing up blood
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Weight loss
- Swollen lymph
Treatment depends on the stage, but may include :
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted drug therapy
There is no sure way to prevent lung cancer, but one can reduce the risk by ;
- Quit smoking
- Test home for radon
- Exercise most days of the week
- Eat a diet full of fruits and vegetables
READ MORE ON LUNG CANCER
1. CDC. Basic information about lung cancer. Available at https://www.cdc.gov.com
2. Mayo Clinic. Lung cancer. Available at https://www.mayoclinic.com
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