Lung cancer is just what the name suggests. It is cancer that has started in a person’s lungs. Even if it spreads to other parts of the body, it is still called lung cancer, because that is where it began.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of all cancer deaths in the United States.
The number one cause of lung cancer is tobacco use. Smokers have 20 times more risk of developing lung cancer than nonsmokers. In fact, 80 to 90 percent of all lung cancer cases in the United States are smoking related. There are two types of lung cancer: non-small cell and small cell.
Lung Cancer Risk Factors
- Smoking: Smoking is the greatest risk factor for lung cancer; tobacco smoke causes more than 8 out of 10 lung cancer cases. Many health consequences can occur when someone begins to smoke, such as:
- Toxic ingredients in cigarette smoke travel throughout the body, causing damage in several different ways.
- Cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) in tobacco smoke damage important genes that control the growth of cells, causing them to grow abnormally or to reproduce too rapidly. This is lung cancer.
- Beyond smoke or nicotine-stained teeth, smokers are also more likely to suffer periodontal disease and to have more serious periodontal disease, including tooth loss.
- Smoking causes bad breath and makes smokers’ homes and clothes stink. It also reduces their sense of smell.
- Chronic coughing, increased phlegm, emphysema and bronchitis are well-established side effects of smoking; and smokers are also more susceptible to influenza and more likely to experience severe symptoms when they get the flu.
- Smoking causes mild airway obstruction, reduced lung function and slowed growth of lung function among adolescents.
- Teenage smokers suffer from shortness of breath almost three times more often than teens who don’t smoke.
- The resting heart rates of young adult smokers are two to three beats per minute faster than nonsmokers; and studies have shown that early signs of heart disease and stroke can be found in adolescents that smoke.
- Smoking is also associated with hearing loss, vision problems and increased headaches.
- Chemical exposure: Some professions are regularly exposed to harmful chemicals which can lead to increased risk
- Disease: Certain diseases, such as silicosis and berylliosis, can increase the chances of lung cancer
- Family history: There is an increased risk when immediate family members have had the disease
Lung Cancer Signs and Symptoms
Individuals experiencing any of these symptoms should consult a physician.
- Cough that does not go away
- Chest pain, made worse by deep breathing, coughing or laughing
- Weight loss and loss of appetite
- Bloody or rust colored sputum
- New onset of wheezing or shortness of breath
- Reoccurring infections, such as bronchitis and pneumonia
Lung Cancer Screening
Early detection is a proven, successful strategy for fighting many forms of cancer. Comprehensive Cancer Centers offers screening with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) for people at high risk for lung cancer, the only recommended screening test for the disease.
LDCT is used to find nodules in the lungs and takes many pictures of the inside of your body from different angles using x-rays. The amount of radiation used is much lower than standard doses of a CT scan and contrast dye should not be used.
Lung Cancer Treatment
If cancer is suspected, the patient will be referred to an oncologist who will conduct tests and determine the appropriate treatment plan. Our practice recognizes the importance of comprehensive care close to home. We provide:
- Comprehensive care, provided by board-certified oncologists and experienced nurses and support staff
- Precise radiation treatment, using leading-edge technology which provides fewer side effects
- Systemic therapies, including chemotherapy, biologic, hormone, immunotherapy and bone-targeting treatments
- Innovative clinical trials, providing the latest therapies through affiliations with The US Oncology Network, US Oncology Research and The Radiation Therapy Oncology Group
- On-site support services, such as patient navigation, counseling, charitable assistance, nutrition planning and more
Physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers provide customized treatment plans for patients diagnosed with lung cancer. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed, contact Comprehensive at 702-952-3350.