Lung Cancer Facts & Risk Factors & Types
Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer in both men and women in this country. According to the American Cancer Society, almost 228,190 people are diagnosed with it each year. Most cases are linked to tobacco smoking.
The lungs, which help you breathe, are two sponge-like, cone-shaped organs in the chest. When you breathe in, oxygen comes through your mouth and nose. It then travels through the windpipe (trachea), which divides into two tubes called bronchi. These take the oxygen to the left and right lungs. The inside of the lungs includes smaller branches called bronchioles and alveoli, which are tiny air sacs.
Each lung is divided into sections called lobes. The right lung has three lobes. The left lung, which has two lobes, is smaller than the right lung because the heart is also on the left side of the body.
The pleura is a thin membrane that covers the outside of each lung and lines the inside wall of the chest. It usually contains a small amount of fluid and forms a protective lining around the lungs that allows them to move smoothly during breathing.
Lung Cancer Symptoms:
These symptoms do not always mean you have lung cancer. However, it is important to discuss any symptoms with your doctor, since they may also signal other health problems.
Lung Cancer Diagnosis:
If you have symptoms that may signal lung cancer, your doctor will examine you and ask you questions about your health and lifestyle, including smoking habits, plus your family history.
One or more of the following tests may be used to determine if you have lung cancer and if it has spread. These tests also may be used to find out if treatment is working.
These Tests are:
- Chest X-rays: Photographs of the lungs to look for abnormal areas.
- Sputum cytology: A sample of mucus or phlegm brought up by coughing is looked at under a microscope.
If chest X-rays indicate an abnormality, one or more of these tests may then be performed:
Bronchoscopy: A thin flexible tube with a tiny camera is inserted through the nose or mouth and down into the lungs. A bronchoscope also can be used to take a small tissue sample for biopsy.
Fine needle aspiration (FNA): A very small needle is placed into the tumor. Suction is used to remove a small amount of tissue, which is then examined under a microscope.
Thoracentesis: Fluid from around the lungs is drawn out with a needle and looked at under a microscope.
Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS): Guided biopsy to check for lung cancer and determine if cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
Video-Assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS)
Imaging tests, which may include:
- · CT or CAT (computed axial tomography)
- · MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans
- · PET (positron emission tomography) scans
Lung Cancer Treatment:
If you are diagnosed with lung cancer, your doctor will discuss the best options to treat it. This depends on several factors, including:
- The stage and type of lung cancer
- Other lung problems, such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis
- Possible side effects of treatment
- Your general health
Your treatment for lung cancer will be customized to your particular needs. It may include one or more of the following therapies to treat the cancer or help relieve symptoms.