Lung Cancer overview
Lung Cancer is a specific variety of cancer that originates in the spongy tissues of the lungs and is highly spreadable to other parts of the body. Because of this, and the association with smoking, lung cancer is consistently the leading cause of cancer-related deaths around the globe.
Unfortunately, lung cancer doesn’t present many signs and symptoms during its earliest stages. In fact, most people won’t notice anything amiss until the disease has become advanced. When they do occur, they can include a cough that won’t go away, coughing up any amount of blood, shortness of breath, chest pain, unexplained weight loss, and headaches.
Lung cancer can result in many complications, including severe shortness of breath if tumors grow in major airways. Along with the coughing up blood and general chest pain, people with lung cancer may also experience a pleural effusion, which is an accumulation of fluid in the lungs. Lung cancer is also a very likely type of cancer to metastasize or spread to other parts of the body.
Where the cancer cells spread greatly depends on what type of cancer you’re dealing with. Lung cancer commonly spreads to the brain or the bones, but given the nature of the lungs, it can spread anywhere. Sadly, once lung cancer does spread to other parts of the body, it often becomes incurable. As such, treatment should shift toward reducing symptoms and extending life.
Smoking is, by far, the leading cause of lung cancer. This includes both people who smoked themselves and those who were only exposed to second-hand smoke. That said, lung cancer can also occur in those who have never been around cigarettes much. However, researchers know very little about what causes these cases.
Most doctors agree that smoking causes cancer by damaging the cells which line the lungs. Inhaling cigarette smoke, along with all the carcinogens, significantly alter cells and increases the chances of developing cancer. Other notable risk factors of lung cancer include exposure to radon gas, asbestos, or other carcinogens, as well as a family history.
The two major types of lung cancer are small-cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. The primary difference is that small cell lung cancer occurs virtually exclusively in heavy smokers, while non-small cell lung cancer is a catch-all term for a wide range of other lung cancers.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the world, with one in 16 people across the US diagnosed with lung cancer at some point in their lives. Reports indicate that nearly a quarter-million people in the US will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year alone. That’s a new diagnosis once every 2 minutes.
Given the urgent nature of lung cancer, if you have any concerns you or a loved one may be facing it, don’t wait to talk to your doctor. Only they can offer a real diagnosis and get you on the right path forward. The first priority should be on speedy treatment, especially when it comes to highly spreadable lung cancer.