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Lung Cancer

What is Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer is a cancer that forms in tissue of the lung, usually in the cell’s lining air passages. This growth may lead to metastasis, which is the invasion of adjacent tissue and infiltration beyond the lungs. The vast majority of primary lung cancers are carcinomas of the lung, derived from epithelial cells.

The main types of lung cancer are small cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) and non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). These types are diagnosed based on the cells’diagnosis under microscope. These two types of lung cancers behave differently and are evaluated and treated differently.

Small cell lung carcinoma (SCLC), is a more aggressive lung disease and often found to be at an advanced stage by the time it is diagnosed. Treatment usually involves chemotherapy and radiation.

Non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) involves adenocarcinoma, squamous cell and large cell cancer. Surgery is the primary option for early stages of this type.

Who are at risk?

Studies have found that 90% of lung cancer cases are related to smoking. Risk of lung cancer increases with the number of cigarettes smoked each day and number of years smoked. And even if someone does not smoke, risk of lung cancer increases if exposed to secondhand smoke.

Exposure to air pollution, radiation, industrial chemicals, asbestos, arsenic, chromium, nickel, soot, tar, and other substances can also cause lung cancer. The risk is highest for those with years of exposure. The risk of lung cancer from these substances is even higher for smokers.

What are symptoms of Lung Cancer

Lung cancer may be found as a mass or tumor on patient’s chest X-ray with no symptoms. But as the cancer grows, common symptoms may include:

  • a cough that gets worse or does not go away
  • breathing trouble, such as shortness of breath
  • rib or shoulder pain, bone pain
  • coughing up blood
  • a hoarse voice
  • pneumonia
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • facial swelling
  • headache

Most often these symptoms are not due to cancer. Other health problems can cause some of these symptoms. Anyone with such symptoms should see a doctor for an early diagnosis and treatment.


As with all other types of cancers, lung cancer may be treated with surgery, chemotherapy or radiation treatments. The treatment depends on the type and extent of the cancer.