Health Encyclopedia

Lung cancer

Cancer - lung

Lung cancer is cancer that starts in the lungs. The lungs are located in the chest. When you breathe, air goes through your nose, down your windpipe (trachea), and into the lungs, where it flows through tubes called bronchi. Most lung cancer begins in the cells that line these tubes. There are two main types of lung cancer:Non-small cell lung...

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  • Lung cancer - Animation

    Lung cancer

    Animation

  • Lung cancer - Animation

    Cancer can affect just about any part of the body, from the colon to the pancreas. Some cancers grow quickly, while others grow more slowly and are easier to treat. But of all the different cancers out there, one of the deadliest is lung cancer. Let's talk today about lung cancer. Cancer starts when cells begin to grow uncontrollably and form tumors. In the case of lung cancer, the tumors start in the lungs. Sometimes cancer starts somewhere else in the body and then spreads to the lungs. In that case, it's called metastatic cancer to the lung. "Metastatic" means disease that has spread. There are two types of lung cancer. The most common, and slower-growing form is non-small cell lung cancer. The other, faster-growing form is called small cell lung cancer. The most common way to get lung cancer is to smoke cigarettes. The more cigarettes you smoke and the earlier you start smoking, the greater your risk is. Even being around someone who smokes and breathing in the secondhand smoke from their cigarettes increases your risk of getting lung cancer. Even though smoking makes you much more likely to get lung cancer, you don't have to smoke or be exposed to smoke to get the disease. Some people who have lung cancer never lit up a cigarette in their life. They have been exposed to cancer-causing substances like asbestos, diesel fumes, arsenic, radiation, or radon gas. Or, they may not have had any known lung cancer risks. The most common signs of lung cancer are a cough that won't go away, chest pain, shortness of breath, weight loss, and fatigue. But just because you have these symptoms it doesn't mean that you have don't have lung cancer. These can also be signs of other conditions, like asthma or a respiratory infection. If you do have these symptoms, see your doctor. A chest x-ray, MRI, or CT scan can view the inside of your lungs to look for signs of cancer or other diseases. What happens if you do have lung cancer?Doctors divide lung cancer into stages. The higher the stage, the more the cancer has spread. For example, a stage 1 cancer is small and hasn't spread outside of the lungs. A stage 4 cancer has spread to the other organs, such as the kidneys or brain. Depending upon the type and stage of your lung cancer, you may need surgery to remove part or all of your lung. Or, your doctor may recommend radiation or chemotherapy to kill cancer cells. If you have lung cancer, how well you do depends upon the stage of your disease and the type of lung cancer that you have. Early-stage cancers have the highest survival and cure rates. Late-stage cancers are harder to treat. Because lung cancer can be so deadly, prevention is key. The most important that thing you can do is to stop smoking, and avoid being around anyone who does smoke.

  • Lung cancer - chemotherapy treatment

    Lung cancer - chemotherapy treatment

    Treatment for lung cancer depends on the type of cancer and the stage of the disease. Chemotherapy is a form of treatment for lung cancer which may cure, shrink or keep the cancer from spreading.

    Lung cancer - chemotherapy treatment

    illustration

  • Lung cancer - lateral chest x-ray

    Lung cancer - lateral chest x-ray

    A lateral view of a chest x-ray in a patient with central cancer of the lung.

    Lung cancer - lateral chest x-ray

    illustration

  • Lung cancer - frontal chest x-ray

    Lung cancer - frontal chest x-ray

    A chest x-ray in a patient with central cancer of the right lung. Notice the white mass in the middle portion of the right lung (seen on the left side of the picture).

    Lung cancer - frontal chest x-ray

    illustration

  • Secondhand smoke and lung cancer

    Secondhand smoke and lung cancer

    Secondhand smoke has been classified as a known cause of lung cancer in humans (Group A carcinogen).

    Secondhand smoke and lung cancer

    illustration

  • Incision for lung biopsy

    Incision for lung biopsy

    In a lung biopsy, a small piece of lung tissue is removed through a surgical incision in the chest. The abnormal results may indicate cancer, benign tumors, lung diseases, and certain infections.

    Incision for lung biopsy

    illustration

  • Lung cancer - Animation

    Lung cancer

    Animation

  • Lung cancer - Animation

    Cancer can affect just about any part of the body, from the colon to the pancreas. Some cancers grow quickly, while others grow more slowly and are easier to treat. But of all the different cancers out there, one of the deadliest is lung cancer. Let's talk today about lung cancer. Cancer starts when cells begin to grow uncontrollably and form tumors. In the case of lung cancer, the tumors start in the lungs. Sometimes cancer starts somewhere else in the body and then spreads to the lungs. In that case, it's called metastatic cancer to the lung. "Metastatic" means disease that has spread. There are two types of lung cancer. The most common, and slower-growing form is non-small cell lung cancer. The other, faster-growing form is called small cell lung cancer. The most common way to get lung cancer is to smoke cigarettes. The more cigarettes you smoke and the earlier you start smoking, the greater your risk is. Even being around someone who smokes and breathing in the secondhand smoke from their cigarettes increases your risk of getting lung cancer. Even though smoking makes you much more likely to get lung cancer, you don't have to smoke or be exposed to smoke to get the disease. Some people who have lung cancer never lit up a cigarette in their life. They have been exposed to cancer-causing substances like asbestos, diesel fumes, arsenic, radiation, or radon gas. Or, they may not have had any known lung cancer risks. The most common signs of lung cancer are a cough that won't go away, chest pain, shortness of breath, weight loss, and fatigue. But just because you have these symptoms it doesn't mean that you have don't have lung cancer. These can also be signs of other conditions, like asthma or a respiratory infection. If you do have these symptoms, see your doctor. A chest x-ray, MRI, or CT scan can view the inside of your lungs to look for signs of cancer or other diseases. What happens if you do have lung cancer?Doctors divide lung cancer into stages. The higher the stage, the more the cancer has spread. For example, a stage 1 cancer is small and hasn't spread outside of the lungs. A stage 4 cancer has spread to the other organs, such as the kidneys or brain. Depending upon the type and stage of your lung cancer, you may need surgery to remove part or all of your lung. Or, your doctor may recommend radiation or chemotherapy to kill cancer cells. If you have lung cancer, how well you do depends upon the stage of your disease and the type of lung cancer that you have. Early-stage cancers have the highest survival and cure rates. Late-stage cancers are harder to treat. Because lung cancer can be so deadly, prevention is key. The most important that thing you can do is to stop smoking, and avoid being around anyone who does smoke.

  • Lung cancer - chemotherapy treatment

    Lung cancer - chemotherapy treatment

    Treatment for lung cancer depends on the type of cancer and the stage of the disease. Chemotherapy is a form of treatment for lung cancer which may cure, shrink or keep the cancer from spreading.

    Lung cancer - chemotherapy treatment

    illustration

  • Lung cancer - lateral chest x-ray

    Lung cancer - lateral chest x-ray

    A lateral view of a chest x-ray in a patient with central cancer of the lung.

    Lung cancer - lateral chest x-ray

    illustration

  • Lung cancer - frontal chest x-ray

    Lung cancer - frontal chest x-ray

    A chest x-ray in a patient with central cancer of the right lung. Notice the white mass in the middle portion of the right lung (seen on the left side of the picture).

    Lung cancer - frontal chest x-ray

    illustration

  • Secondhand smoke and lung cancer

    Secondhand smoke and lung cancer

    Secondhand smoke has been classified as a known cause of lung cancer in humans (Group A carcinogen).

    Secondhand smoke and lung cancer

    illustration

  • Incision for lung biopsy

    Incision for lung biopsy

    In a lung biopsy, a small piece of lung tissue is removed through a surgical incision in the chest. The abnormal results may indicate cancer, benign tumors, lung diseases, and certain infections.

    Incision for lung biopsy

    illustration

Lung cancer

Cancer - lung

Lung cancer is cancer that starts in the lungs. The lungs are located in the chest. When you breathe, air goes through your nose, down your windpipe (trachea), and into the lungs, where it flows through tubes called bronchi. Most lung cancer begins in the cells that line these tubes. There are two main types of lung cancer:Non-small cell lung...

Read Full Article

 
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Lung cancer

Cancer - lung

Lung cancer is cancer that starts in the lungs. The lungs are located in the chest. When you breathe, air goes through your nose, down your windpipe (trachea), and into the lungs, where it flows through tubes called bronchi. Most lung cancer begins in the cells that line these tubes. There are two main types of lung cancer:Non-small cell lung...

Read Full Article

 

Review Date: 2/11/2020

Reviewed By: Mark Levin, MD, Hematologist and Oncologist, Farmington, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Editorial update 09/28/2021.

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