The uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in one or both lungs is lung cancer. These abnormal cells impede the function of the lung. The abnormal cells can also form tumors.
Cells in the body contain genetic material called DNA. Mature cells divide into two cells, the old cells die off and the new cells take their place. Cancer begins with a mutation in a cells DNA. Mutations can be cause by normal aging process or thru other things like smoking or breathing in asbestos.
Before becoming cancerous, cells can be precancerous, which means they have some mutations but can still function as lung cells. If a cell has one genetic mutation it may develop more and become cancerous. At a later stage the mutated cells can migrate away from the main tumor and grow on other parts of the body. This is called metastases.
There is primary lung cancer and secondary lung cancer. Primary starts at the lung; these cancer cells are abnormal lung cells. Secondary is when abnormal cells travel from another part of the boy to the lungs. Common parts where they travel from are the esophagus and the trachea.
There are two types of lung cancer small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. These names are given because of how they look under a microscope to a pathologist. Most cancers are non-small cell (NSCLC). It accounts for about 80% of all lung cancers. Small cell lung cancer (SCLC), accounts for only 20%. Although they are small, they can multiply very quickly and form large tumors that spread throughout the body. SCLC is mostly caused by smoking.
Lung cancer is the second most diagnosed cancer in women and men, but it's the number one cause of death every year. It takes years to develop, so it is most likely to be found in older people. The average age of a person receiving a positive diagnosis is 71 years old.
Lung cancer affects more men than woman. As of 2009 the statistic was an estimate of 116,900 men and 103.350 women will be diagnosed with the disease. An estimate of 88,900 men will die from it and 70,490 women.
Cigarette smoking is the most common cause of lung cancer. Second had smoke, asbestos or other environmental factors can also cause lung cancer. Some people develop lung cancer and doctors do not know why. There are also inherited factors and environmental factors involved in the development of a cancer.
If a person smokes or has been exposed to secondhand smoke, asbestos or other environmental factors, or has a family member who did not have those risk factors, but still developed lung cancer, then that person may be at risk of developing lung cancer.
People that are at risk of developing lung cancer should quit smoking (if they currently smoke). Smoking can also cause cancers other than lung cancer. People should also minimize or eliminate environmental factors since they also increase the risk of lung cancer.
Some sings or symptoms of lung cancer are persistent or intense coughing, pain in shoulder, chest, or back unrelated to coughing, being hoarse or changes in the voice, developing bronchitis or pneumonia frequently, shortness of breath, harsh sounds with each breath and coughing up blood. People should know how his or her own body feels. If anything abnormal is going on they should let their doctor know.
If someone is diagnosed with lung caner, the pathologist will assign a type and a stage to the cancer. The stage signifies the extent of the caner and will determine the treatment the oncologist recommends. Staging is used only to determine the best treatment and it does not determine prognosis.
The staging is different for non-small cell lung caner then small cell lung cancer. The assigned stage number to the cancer generally includes the size of the tumor, and if it has spread, if the tumor has spread to any lymph nodes and which ones, and if the tumor has moved to other organs. Non-small cell lung cancer is staged from I through IV, I being the earliest and IV being the latest. Small cell lung cancer is classified as either limited stage: the tumor is found in one lung and nearby lymph nodes, or extensive: the tumor has spread to other organs or to both lungs.
If a patient receives a positive lung cancer diagnosis, based on the type and stage of the patient's cancer and overall health they patient and the physician will choose the most appropriate treatment option. Surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are the main treatment options.
Surgery offers the greatest chance for survival for some types of lung cancer, because it actually removes a tumor and nearby lymph nodes. For early stage cancers that have not spread to other parts of the body this is especially true. Patients may also undergo surgery during the course of their diagnosis and treatment. Surgery can be performed after chemotherapy and radiation.
There are two types of surgery curative surgery and palliative surgery. Curative surgery aims to completely remove the tumor, and may include the removal of a wedge, a lobe or an entire lung. Palliative surgery is to make the patient more comfortable.
Chemotherapy uses strong drugs or chemicals to kill cancer cells, slow their growth, or stop reproduction. Chemotherapy drugs may be given in combination with each other, and also in combination with surgery and radiation. Chemotherapy is also called systemic therapy, because it treats the entire body, or system.
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