Lung Cancer What is it and Symptoms

The third most common cancer in the U.S. and one of the most common types of cancer in the world, Lung Cancer starts in the lungs, typically in the cells lining the air passages. Your lungs are two spongy organs in your chest that take in oxygen when you inhale and release carbon dioxide when you exhale.

It is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths.

Lung cancer can be broadly categorized into two main types: non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). NSCLC is the most common type, accounting for about 85% of all cases, while SCLC is less common but tends to grow and spread more rapidly.

Primary Causes of Lung Cancer

The primary cause of lung cancer is cigarette smoking, including both active smoking (smoking cigarettes directly) and passive smoking (inhalation of tobacco smoke from others). Other risk factors include exposure to secondhand smoke, occupational exposure to certain chemicals and substances (such as asbestos, radon, arsenic, and certain metals), genetic predisposition, and a history of previous lung diseases.

Symptoms of Lung Cancer

Symptoms of lung cancer may vary but can include persistent coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing up blood, hoarseness, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, and recurrent lung infections. However, it’s important to note that symptoms may not appear until the cancer has reached an advanced stage.

Diagnosis of lung cancer typically involves a combination of imaging tests such as chest X-rays, CT scans, or PET scans, as well as biopsies, where a sample of tissue is taken from the lung for examination under a microscope.

The treatment options for lung cancer depend on several factors, including the type and stage of cancer, as well as the overall health of the patient. Treatment may involve surgery to remove the tumor, radiation therapy to destroy cancer cells, chemotherapy to kill cancer cells using drugs, targeted therapy that specifically targets cancer cells with certain genetic mutations, or immunotherapy that helps the immune system fight cancer cells.

Prevention of lung cancer primarily involves avoiding tobacco smoke, whether by not smoking or by quitting smoking, as well as minimizing exposure to secondhand smoke and other environmental risk factors. Regular check-ups and early detection through screenings may also improve the chances of successful treatment.