What Is Lung Cancer?

Lung Cancer Awareness

Lung Cancer Awareness

November is celebrated as lung cancer awareness month. A white ribbon is used to represent cancer awareness. Let us learn more about what is lung cancer.

Lung cancer as the name suggests is a malignant tumor in the lungs. In both men and women it is the leading cause of deaths.

Fortunately it is one of the most preventable types of cancer. Lung cancer involves growth of abnormal cells in the lungs. These abnormal cells damage the lung tissue in the area. This type of cancer can spread to other body parts and so can a cancer from another site can spread to the lungs. A cancer that spreads from another site to the lungs cannot be termed as lung cancer.

Types of Lung Cancer

There are two major types of lung cancer:

  • Small Cell Lung Cancer
  • Non Small Cell Lung Cancer

80% of the cases are non small cell cases and as a result it is the more common one amongst the two. This type of lung cancer grows and spreads to other parts of the body. It spreads slowly as compared to small cell lung cancer.

Small cell lung cancers are an aggressive form of lung cancer. It starts in the large central bronchi. It tends to spread fast in a period as less as 90 days. It tends to spread to the liver, bones and brain even before any symptom may appear.

Non-small cell lung cancer can be of the following types –

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  • Squamous cell carcinoma  – Accounting for nearly 30% of the lung cancers it starts in the central bronchi. More common amongst smokers it is the easiest to detect at early stages. This type of cancer also tends to be one of the most curable forms.
  • Adenocarcinoma – Accounting for 40% of the lung cancers it is on a rise. It is more common amongst non-smokers and women. It is detected along the outer edges of the lungs. It spreads to the lymph nodes and other organs.
  • Large Cell Carcinomas – These are the least common of non-small cell cancers. They are a group of cancers that have large abnormal cells that start form the outer edges of the lungs. Large cell carcinomas tend to spread very fast to other parts of the body.

Why is Lung Cancer a serious issue?

Lung cancer is a serious issue for it is one of those cancers that are difficult to detect at an early stage. It may continue to grow for years before any symptoms are observed and a person opts for screening. Symptoms are usually noticed at a stage when the cancer is advanced in the body. Efforts are on to devise screening techniques and methods that help in early detection.

Causes of Lung Cancer

Nearly 85% of the lung cancers can be attributed to smoking and genetic makeup of a person. Lung cancer can run in families and indicating towards the fact that it can be inherited. Genetic traits have been recognized that make some people vulnerable to this cancer than others. Some of the factors that are considered to play an instrumental role in lung cancer are:

  • Smoking: This is the number one cause of lung cancer. Nearly 85% ofdownload (1) the cancers are attributed to smoking of tobacco. Tobacco contains chemicals that can lead to cancer. Second hand smoke (passive smokers) can also lead to lung cancer.
  • Radon Exposure: This is the second leading cause of lung cancer. It is a radioactive gas that is colorless and odorless. It is naturally occurring in the soil and is emitted through small fissures and gaps.
  • Industrial Exposure: Industrial exposure can also lead to lung images (1)cancer. Working in an industry involves working with hazardous materials like asbestos, chromium, nickel, uranium and petroleum.
  • Genetic Factors: Genetic factors also play an important role in increasing the chances of a person to acquire lung cancer. There are certain mutations in the genes that have been linked with lung cancer. A family history of lung cancer increases the chances of a person to acquire the same.

Let us not forget that lung cancer is one of the most preventable forms of the disease.


Lung.Org Website

WebMD Website

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  • meetunayyar
  • A lawyer by profession, social worker and a fighter against cancer