Lung Cancer

This cancer is very common and very deadly. More than 180,000 cases are diagnosed every year in the United States alone, and of these, nearly 90 percent die of the disease. Although it is one of the most deadly of all cancers, it is also the most preventable.

ANATOMY The lungs are a pair of cone-shaped organs that are part of the respiratory system. The right lung has three sections, called lobes, and is a little larger than the left lung, which has two lobes. When we breathe, the lungs take in oxygen, which our cells need to live and carry out their normal functions. When we exhale, the lungs get rid of carbon dioxide, a cellular waste product. Most lung cancers start in the epithelial lining of the bronchi, and occasionally in the trachea, bronchioles, or alveoli. All forms of lung cancer, being derived from epithelial cells, are carcinomas.

A chest X-ray showing evidence of cancer in the right lung. (Chris Bjornberg/ Photo Researchers, Inc.)

RISK FACTORS Scientists have discovered several causes of lung cancer, most due to atmospheric pollutants and the use of tobacco. The smoke from cigarettes, cigars, and pipes contains many compounds called carcinogens that can damage cells, leading to the formation of cancer. The likelihood that a smoker will develop lung cancer is affected by the age at which smoking began, how long the person has smoked, the number of cigarettes smoked per day, and how deeply the smoker inhales. Stopping smoking greatly reduces a person's risk for developing lung cancer. Environmental tobacco smoke, or secondhand smoke, is just as dangerous. Work-related exposure to radioactive gases, such as radon, and to asbestos dust is also known to cause cancer. Atmospheric pollutants, contributed by car and truck exhaust, are also believed to be risk factors, but the link is not proven.

SYMPTOMS Symptoms of lung cancer include a cough that doesn't go away and gets worse over time; constant chest pain; coughing up blood; shortness of breath, wheezing, or hoarseness; repeated problems with pneumonia or bronchitis; swelling of the neck and face; loss of appetite or weight loss and chronic fatigue.

DIAGNOSIS A chest X-ray to visualize possible tumors, and a lung biopsy are the most common methods used to diagnose lung cancer.

STAGING Lung cancer usually spreads to the brain and bones. CT scans and MRI are the most common methods for determining the stage of this form of cancer.

Quit Smoking For Good

Quit Smoking For Good

Quit smoking for good! Stop your bad habits for good, learn to cope with the addiction of cigarettes and how to curb cravings and begin a new life. You will never again have to leave a meeting and find a place outside to smoke, losing valuable time. This is the key to your freedom from addiction, take the first step!

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment