Lung cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow, multiply and mass together within the lung invading nearby healthy tissue. It is the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women. There are two major types of lung cancer: non-small cell lung cancer (which is the most common form and usually spreads to different parts of the body) and small cell lung cancer, which is a fast-growing type of lung cancer and generally spreads much more quickly than non-small cell.
Lung cancer is a very aggressive form of cancer and is almost always caused by smoking or secondhand smoke. The earlier a person starts to smoke and the more cigarettes per day that are smoked puts one at a greater risk for lung cancer. When a person simply stops smoking, the risk of lung cancer decreases dramatically each year because normal cells will naturally replace abnormal or damaged cells. There are cases of lung cancer that have been diagnosed in people who have never smoked. Additional causes of this cancer include a family history, asbestos exposure, radon gas exposure, high levels of air pollution, long-term exposure to cancer-causing chemicals such as uranium, coal, gas, diesel exhaust, etc.
Lung cancer is typically only symptomatic in the latter stages and might include chronic coughing, coughing up blood, wheezing, chest pain, fever, fatigue and repeated bouts of pneumonia or bronchitis. If a person has a long history of smoking, then its important to discuss these symptoms with a specialist so that lung cancer can be ruled out, or diagnosed early.
Surgery is the first step in treating the cancer along with radiation or chemotherapy or a combination of the two. The treatment plan will depend on the specific type of lung cancer and if the cancer has spread.