Lung cancer

2021-07-24 04:10 PM

Lung cancer often causes no signs and symptoms in its early stages. Signs and symptoms of lung cancer usually occur only when the disease is late.

Lung cancer

Lung cancer


Lung cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the lungs. The lungs are the spongy parts of the body's chest, where oxygen is inhaled and exhaled when carbon dioxide is released.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, in both men and women. Lung cancer kills more people each year than colon, prostate, ovarian, lymphatic, and breast cancers.
Smokers have the greatest risk of lung cancer. Lung cancer risk increases with the number of smoked cigarettes. After smoking for many years, the risk of developing lung cancer can be significantly reduced if quitting as soon as possible.


Lung cancer often causes no signs and symptoms in its early stages. Signs and symptoms of lung cancer usually occur only when the disease is late.

Signs and symptoms of lung cancer may include:

A new cough that doesn't finish.

Changing patterns of chronic cough or "smoker's cough".

Coughing up blood, even a small amount.

Shortness of breath.

Chest pain.


Hoarse voice.

Losing weight unintentionally.

Bone pain.


Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any worrying signs or symptoms.

If you smoke and want to stop to reduce your risk of lung cancer, make an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor can recommend strategies, such as counseling, medication, and nicotine replacement products.


Cigarette smoking causes the majority of lung cancers - both in smokers and in those exposed to secondhand smoke. But lung cancer also occurs in people who have never smoked and in people who have never had prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke. In these cases, there may be no obvious cause of lung cancer. Doctors have identified factors that may increase the risk.

Smoking causes lung cancer:

Doctors believe that the cause of lung cancer from smoking is damage to the cells lining the lungs. When you inhale tobacco smoke, which is full of carcinogens, changes in lung tissue begin almost immediately. At first, the body can repair this damage. But with repeated exposure, normal cells are increasingly damaged. Over time, the damage is done to cells that become abnormal, and eventually, cancer can develop.

Types of lung cancer

Doctors divide lung cancer into two main types based on the appearance of lung cancer cells under the microscope. Doctors decide on treatment based on the type of lung cancer you have. The two types of lung cancer include:

Small cell lung cancer

Occurs almost exclusively in smokers and is less common than non-small cell lung cancer.

Non-small cell lung cancer

Is a general term for several types of lung cancer. These include squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.

Risk factors

Several factors can increase the risk of lung cancer. Some risk factors can be controlled, for example by quitting smoking. And other factors cannot be controlled, such as gender. Lung cancer risk factors include:

Smoke. Smoking remains the biggest risk factor for lung cancer. The risk of lung cancer increases with the number of cigarettes smoked per day and the number of years smoked. Quitting at any age can significantly reduce your risk of developing lung cancer.

Exposure to secondhand smoke. Even if you don't smoke, your risk of lung cancer increases if you're exposed to secondhand smoke.

Exposure to radon gas. Radon is a product of the natural breakdown of uranium in rocks, soil, and water that eventually becomes part of the air we breathe. Unsafe levels of radon gas can accumulate, including at home.

Exposure to asbestos and other chemicals. Workplace exposure to asbestos and substances that can cause cancer - such as arsenic, nickel, chromium, and tar - can also increase the risk of developing lung cancer, especially if you are a smoker.

Family history of lung cancer. People who have a parent, sibling, or close relative with lung cancer have an increased risk of the disease.

Using too much alcohol. Drinking more than a moderate amount of alcohol - no more than one drink a day for women or two drinks a day for men - can increase the risk of lung cancer.

Certain lung diseases. People with certain lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, may have an increased risk of lung cancer.


Lung cancer can cause complications, such as:

Shortness of breath. People with lung cancer may have difficulty breathing if cancer grows to block the main airway. Lung cancer can also cause fluid to build up around the lungs, making it harder for the lungs to fully expand when breathing in.

Hemoptysis. Lung cancer can cause bleeding in the airways, which can cause coughing up blood. Sometimes bleeding can become severe. Treatments are available to control bleeding.

Painful. Lung cancer that has spread to the lining of the lungs or another area of ​​the body can cause pain. Tell your doctor if you are in pain. Headaches may be mild and constant but may become constant. Medications, radiation, and other treatments can help make you more comfortable.

Pleural effusion. Lung cancer can cause fluid to build up in the space surrounding the lungs in the chest cavity. Pleural effusion can cause cancer to spread to the outside of the lung or to react to lung cancer in the lung. Fluid buildup in the chest can make it difficult to breathe. Treatments are available to drain the fluid and reduce the risk of the pleural effusion occurring again.

Cancer has spread to other parts of the body (metastasis). Lung cancer often spreads (metastasizes) to other parts of the body - usually the side lungs, brain, bones, liver, and adrenal glands. Cancer that spreads can cause pain, nausea, headache, or other signs and symptoms depending on the organ affected. In some cases, treatment for isolated metastases is available, but in many cases, the goal of metastatic therapy is only to relieve signs and symptoms.

Death. Unfortunately, survival rates for people diagnosed with lung cancer are very low. In most cases, the disease is fatal. People diagnosed at the earliest stage have the greatest chance for cure. The doctor can discuss the chances for survival.

Tests and diagnostics

Checking the health of patients with lung cancer

Doctors aren't sure whether people who don't have signs or symptoms of lung cancer need to undergo testing. Even if lung cancer risk is increased - for example, if you are a smoker - benefiting from a chest X-ray or computed tomography (CT scan) is not clear. Some research shows that these tests can find cancer earlier when it can be successfully treated. But other studies find that these tests are often benign, require further invasive testing, and expose unnecessary risks.

Lung cancer screening is controversial among doctors

Studies are underway to determine what types of tests may be helpful and who would benefit from lung cancer screening. In the meantime, talk to your doctor if you're concerned about your lung cancer risk. Together can identify strategies to reduce risk and decide on appropriate screening tests.

Tests to diagnose lung cancer

If there is reason to think you may have lung cancer, your doctor may order some tests to look for cancer cells and to rule out other conditions. To diagnose lung cancer, your doctor may recommend:

Check pictures. Chest radiographs may reveal an abnormal mass or lymph node. CT scans can detect small lesions in the lungs that may not be detected on an X-ray.

Sputum cytology. If you have a cough and sputum production, looking at the sputum under a microscope can sometimes reveal the presence of lung cancer cells.

Biopsy. A sample of abnormal cells may be removed during a biopsy procedure to diagnose lung cancer. The doctor can perform a biopsy in a number of ways, including bronchial, where the doctor looks at abnormal areas of the lungs using a lighted tube through the throat and into the lungs; mediastinoscopy, in which an incision in the lower neck and surgical tools are inserted behind the breastbone to take tissue samples from the lymph nodes, the doctor uses X-rays or CT to guide the needle through the chest and wall of a suspicious tumor or lymph node to collect cells. Biopsy samples may also be taken from lymph nodes or other areas where cancer has spread, such as the liver.

Cancer stage

Once lung cancer has been diagnosed, your doctor will determine the extent or stage of cancer. The stage of cancer helps decide what treatment is most appropriate.

Tests may include imaging procedures that allow your doctor to find evidence that cancer has spread beyond the lungs. These tests include CT scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) scan. Each type of test is appropriate for each person, talk to your doctor about the appropriate procedure.

Stages of non-small cell lung cancer

Stage I. Cancer at this stage has invaded the underlying lung tissue but has not spread to the lymph nodes.

Stage II. Cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes or other nearby or chest wall structures.

Stage IIIA. At this stage, cancer has spread from the lungs to the lymph nodes in the center of the chest.

Stage IIIB. Cancer has spread to areas such as the heart, blood vessels, trachea, and esophagus - all within the chest - or to the lymph nodes in the collarbone area or to the tissues surrounding the lungs in the chest (pleura).

Stage IV. Cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver, bones, or brain.

Stages of lung cancer

Limit. The cancer is confined to one lung and nearby lymph nodes.

Spread. Cancer has spread beyond one lung and nearby lymph nodes and may have invaded both lungs, multiple distant lymph nodes, or other organs, such as the liver or brain.

Treatments and drugs

Doctors choose a cancer treatment protocol based on several factors, such as overall health, the type and stage of cancer, and preferences. This option usually includes one or more treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or targeted drug therapy.

In some cases, it is possible to choose not to undergo treatment. For example, it may feel like the side effects of treatment will outweigh the potential benefits. The doctor may then suggest only consoling care to treat the symptoms the cancer is causing, such as pain.


Treatment options for non-small cell lung cancer


Popular options


Surgery, sometimes chemotherapy


Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation


Combination of chemotherapy and radiation, sometimes surgery based on treatment results


Chemotherapy, sometimes radiation


Chemotherapy, targeted drugs, clinical trials, supportive care


Treatment options for small cell lung cancer


Popular options



Combination of chemotherapy and radiation, sometimes surgery



Chemotherapy, clinical trials, supportive care



During surgery, the surgeon removes lung cancer tissue and healthy tissue at the edge. Procedures to remove lung cancer include:

Resection to remove a small portion of the lung with the tumor along with healthy tissue at the border.

Segmental resection to remove most of the lung, but not the entire lobe.

Lobectomy to remove an entire lobe of the lung.

Resection to remove an entire lung.

If undergoing surgery, the surgeon may also remove lymph nodes in the chest to check for signs of cancer.

Lung cancer with surgery carries a number of risks, including bleeding and infection. You will feel short of breath after lung surgery. Lung tissue will expand over time and make breathing easier. Your doctor may recommend a respiratory therapist who can teach breathing exercises to aid recovery.


Chemotherapy to kill cancer cells. One or more chemotherapy drugs may be given through a vein in your arm or taken by mouth. Combinations of drugs are often used in a series of treatments over a period of weeks or months, with pauses in between so the body can recover.

Chemotherapy may be used as a first-line for lung cancer treatment or as adjunctive treatment after surgery. In some cases, chemotherapy may be used to relieve symptoms of cancer.


Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams, like X-rays, to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy can be directed at the lung cancer from outside the body (external beam radiation) or it can be placed inside, a catheter placed inside the body near the cancerous tissue (brachytherapy).

Radiation therapy may be used alone or with other lung cancer treatments. Sometimes used concurrently with chemotherapy.

Targeted medicine

New cancer-targeted treatments specifically target abnormal cancer cells. Targeted treatment options for treating lung cancer include:

Bevacizumab (Avastin). Bevacizumab stops tumor growth from stopping the blood supply. Blood vessels connected to tumors can deliver oxygen and nutrients to the tumor, allowing it to grow. Bevacizumab is often used in combination with chemotherapy and is approved for late and recurrent non-small cell lung cancer. Bevacizumab carries a risk of bleeding, blood clots, and high blood pressure.

Erlotinib (Tarceva). Erlotinib, a chemical that signals cancer cells to grow and divide. Erlotinib is approved for people with new and recurrent non-small cell lung cancer for whom chemotherapy has not worked. Side effects include skin rash and diarrhea.

Clinical trials

Clinical trials are studying treatments for lung cancer. May be interested in enrolling in a clinical trial for lung cancer if treatment has not progressed or if treatment options are limited. Studying treatments in a clinical trial may be the latest discovery, but they don't guarantee a cure. Carefully weigh your treatment options with your doctor. Participation in a clinical trial can help doctors better understand how to treat lung cancer in the future.

Supportive care

When treatment has little chance of curing the disease, your doctor may recommend avoiding treatment and opting for supportive care instead. With supportive care, your doctor can treat your signs and symptoms to make you feel more comfortable. Supportive care allows making the most of the final week or month without the negative side effects that could impact the quality of life.

Lifestyle and Remedies

Coping with shortness of breath. Many people experience shortness of breath due to lung cancer at some point in the course of the disease. Treatments and medications are available to help you feel more comfortable, but not always enough. To deal with shortness of breath.

Try relaxing. Feeling short of breath can be scary. But fear and anxiety only make it harder to breathe. When you start to feel short of breath, try to combat the fear by choosing an activity that helps you relax. Listen to music, imagine a favorite holiday in your mind, meditate or say a prayer.

Find a comfortable position. It can help lean forward when feeling out of breath.

Focus on the breath. When you feel short of breath, focus your mind on the breath. Instead of trying to inhale, focus on moving the muscles that control the diaphragm. Try to breathe through pursed lips.

Energy-saving. If you are short of breath, you can become fatigued easily. Eliminate unnecessary tasks so you can save energy for what needs to be done.

Lower the room temperature. A cold room can make it easier to breathe.

Please sit near the window. Sitting or lying down that allows you to look out a window can help you feel less confined when you feel short of breath.

Cool fan. A fan blowing on the face can make breathing easier.

Tell your doctor if you have trouble breathing or if your symptoms get worse.

Alternative medicine

If your doctor has said that your lung cancer cannot be cured, you may want to turn to complementary and alternative medicine. Complementary and alternative lung cancer treatments cannot cure cancer. But complementary and alternative treatments can often be combined with a doctor's care to help relieve possible signs and symptoms. Your doctor can help weigh the benefits and risks of complementary and alternative treatments.

Doctors review complementary and alternative treatments and find several therapies that may be helpful for people with lung cancer, including:

Acupuncture. In acupuncture, small needles are inserted into points on the body. Acupuncture can relieve pain and reduce side effects of cancer treatment such as nausea, vomiting, and dry mouth, but there is no evidence that acupuncture has any effect on cancer. Acupuncture is possibly safe when performed by a certified practitioner. Ask your doctor to refer someone in the community. However, acupuncture is not safe if you have anemia or take blood thinners.

Hypnosis. Hypnosis is a type of treatment that puts the patient in a coma--can be relaxed. Hypnosis is usually performed by a therapist through relaxation exercises and requires gratifying and positive thinking. Hypnosis can reduce anxiety, nausea, and pain in people with cancer.

Massage. Massage uses hands to apply pressure to the skin and muscles. Massage can help reduce anxiety, stress, fatigue, and pain in people with cancer. Some massage therapists are specially trained to work with people with cancer. Ask your doctor for the name of a massage therapist in your community. Massage does not hurt. Massage therapy should not apply pressure anywhere near the tumor or any surgical wound. Avoid massage if you are anemic or if you are taking blood thinners.

Meditation. Meditation is a quiet time of reflection in which the mind is focused on something, like an image, idea, or sound. Meditation can reduce stress and improve the quality of life in people with cancer. Meditation can be self-paced, or it can be guided.

Yoga. Yoga combines gentle movement with deep breathing and meditation. Yoga may help people with cancer sleep better. Yoga is generally safe when taught by a trained instructor, but doesn't make any moves that hurt or don't feel right. Many fitness centers offer yoga classes. Ask friends and family for advice on yoga classes.

Coping and supporting

A diagnosis of lung cancer is bewildering. It may take a while for emotions to return to normal. When ready, steps can be taken to bring the situation under control. An active role in health care can make you feel empowered to deal with lung cancer. Keep trying hard:

Learn all you can about lung cancer. Learn everything you can about lung cancer - its types, progression, treatment options, and effects. The more you know, the more activities can be in the care. Write down questions and requests at your next appointment. Ask your health care team for additional sources of information.

Actively participate in treatment. Although it can be tiring and depressing, don't let others - including your family or your doctor - make important decisions. Take an active role in the treatment and work with your doctor to make health care decisions.

Build a support system. A strong support system helps to cope with everyday difficulties, such as fatigue and pain. Friends and family are worried and want to help, to learn to accept help when needed. Staying connected with friends and family helps cope with the illness, and it gives an opportunity to talk about hopes and fears. Sometimes it feels like friends and family can't understand their feelings if they don't have cancer. In these cases, support groups - both in the community and on the Internet - can be a useful source of information and support. It is also possible to develop deep and lasting bonds with people who are going through similar things.

Set reasonable goals. Having goals helps to feel in control and can give a sense of purpose. But don't choose goals that are unattainable. Might not be able to work a 40-hour week, for example, but can work at least half the time. In fact, many people find that continuing to work can be helpful.

Take time for yourself. Eating well, relaxing, and getting enough rest can help combat the stress and fatigue of cancer. Also, plan ahead for breaks when you may need more rest or limit what you do.

Still working. A cancer diagnosis doesn't mean you have to stop doing the things you enjoy. For the most part, if it feels enough to do something, go ahead and do it.


There is no sure way to prevent lung cancer, but you can reduce your risk if:

No smoking. If you've never smoked, don't start. Talk about not smoking so you can understand how to avoid major risk factors for lung cancer. Many smokers start smoking in their teens. Start conversations about the dangers of smoking with children early so they know how to respond to pressure.

Stop smoking. Stopping smoking reduces the risk of lung cancer, even if you have smoked for many years. Talk to your doctor about smoking cessation strategies that can help you quit. Options include nicotine replacement products, medication, and support groups.

Avoid secondhand smoke. If you live or work with a smoker, urge that person to quit. At the very least, tell him or her to smoke outside. Avoid places where people smoke, such as bars and restaurants.

Check for radon. Check radon levels in the home, especially if living in an area where radon is known is a problem. High radon can be overcome to make housing safer.

Avoid carcinogens in the workplace. Take precautions to protect yourself from exposure to hazardous chemicals in the workplace. In the United States, employers must indicate if they are being exposed to hazardous chemicals at work. Follow precautions. For example, a protective mask, always wear it. Ask your doctor more about what you can do to protect yourself at work. The risk of lung damage from these carcinogens increases if you smoke.

Eat a diet full of fruits and vegetables. Choose a healthy diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables. The best food sources of vitamins and nutrients. Avoid taking large doses of vitamins in pill form, which can be harmful. For example, the researchers hope to reduce the risk of lung cancer in heavy smokers with beta carotene supplements. The results showed that the supplements actually increased the risk of cancer in smokers.

Drink alcohol in moderation. Limit one drink a day if you're a woman or two a day if you're a man. Anyone who is over 65 years old should have no more than one drink a day.

Do exercise. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Check if not done regularly. Start slowly and continue to work more and more. Cycling, swimming, and walking are good choices. Get some extra exercise during the day - from work and walking the rest of the way or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.