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When caught early, lung cancer may respond well to treatment. We offer a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and palliative care, depending on the type and progression of your lung cancer.
Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in men and women with approximately 225,000 new cases diagnosed in the U.S. in 2015. However, lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death for both men and women. Despite the stigma associated with lung cancer and cigarette smoking, 20% of patients who develop the disease have never smoked in their life, and the disease is becoming more common in women never smokers.
Understanding the risks associated with lung cancer and being aware of the symptoms in order to aid in detection are important. In this helpful guide, we explain lung cancer and how it is detected and treated.
Types of Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is treated depending on the cell type. Lung cancer develops when cells within the lung suffer damage that cannot be repaired, which then leads to uncontrolled growth and form a tumor. This usually starts as a lesion or “spot” in the lung. Lung tumors can then cause harm by growing, invading other areas of the lung or spreading to other areas in the body. Not every abnormal “spot” or nodule in the lung is cancer and careful work up from your doctor is important in making the correct and early diagnosis.
There are two main types of lung cancer:
- Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: Approximately 85 percent of lung cancers are non-small cell lung cancers, making it the most common type. Subtypes include squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma and large cell carcinoma. More recent advances in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer, particularly adenocarcinoma, focuses on targeting specific changes or mutations in the tumor DNA. The presence of these mutations can help guide treatment and prognosis.
- Small Cell Lung Cancer: This type of lung cancer accounts for nearly 15 percent of lung cancers. It grows more rapidly and spreads to other parts of the body sooner than non-small cell lung cancer. Small cell cancer tends to respond very well to chemotherapy.
Causes and Risk Factors
Exposure to a number of causes and risk factors may make it more likely for you to develop lung cancer. These include:
- Smoking: The biggest risk factor for lung cancer is smoking – nearly 80-85 percent of all lung cancers in the United States are smoking-related. The number of cigarettes you smoke each day and the number of years you have smoked factor into your risk. Quitting smoking at any age may lower your risk.
- Secondhand Smoke: According to the U.S. Surgeon General, nonsmokers who are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke at work and/or home increase their risk of developing lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent.
- Asbestos: Exposure in the workplace to asbestos may increase your risk of lung cancer. When combined with smoking, exposure to asbestos results in an even higher risk of developing lung cancer.
- Radon: This odorless gas may be found in any home. Testing kits are available at home improvement stores and can help you determine if you are living with a safe level of radon (if any).
- Family History: If you have a parent, sibling or child with lung cancer, you are at an increased risk.
- Military Service: Those who have served in the military or are currently serving are at risk for developing lung cancer because of exposure to a variety of industrial substances.