Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is cancer in the respiratory system

By Sarah Leavitt, Medical Research EditorLast modified: March 07, 2011

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed types of cancer. Lung cancer affects over 200,000 people each year and 1 in 13 people will develop lung cancer.


What is lung cancer?

Lung cancer is cancer that develops in the tissue of the lungs, commonly in the cells of the air passages that lead from the lungs to the respiratory tract. Lung cancer develops in the tissue of the lungs and can spread rapidly to the lymph glands and other organs.

How does lung cancer develop?

There are two main types of lung cancer: small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The type of cancer depends on the cells that make up the tumor and will affect how rapidly the cancer develops and spreads. SCLC is the most rapidly spreading form of lung cancer.


What causes lung cancer?

Lung cancer is strongly related to smoking - in 9 out of 10 cases of lung cancer the patient is a smoker or ex-smoker. Smoking and lung cancer are directly connected. The longer a person smokes, the higher the risk of developing cancer in the lungs. The risk of lung cancer also increases in people who are exposed to smoke although the risk of lung cancer from passive smoking is significantly lower than in smokers.

Pollution has been linked to lung cancer with people who live in areas where the rate of air pollution is high are more likely to develop cancer than those who live in pollution free areas.

Patients who have received treatment for another form of lung disease such as emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are at increased risk of lung cancer developing due to the reduced lung capacity.


What are the symptoms of lung cancer?

Lung cancer is often diagnosed during a routine chest x-ray and no symptoms will be present. In the initial stages of the disease most patients are unaware of the condition. As the lung cancer develops so do the symptoms. Lung cancer is one of the most rapidly spreading cancers and it is important patients who present symptoms that could be related to cancer visit a doctor immediately.

The symptoms of lung cancer are:

    * A cough
    * Change to a persistent cough
    * Coughing up phlegm
    * Pain in the chest when breathing
    * Difficulty catching breath
    * Unusual tiredness
    * Loosing weight
    * Difficulty swallowing

Treatment for lung cancer

The treatment for lung cancer will depend on how advanced the condition is when it is diagnosed. The earlier the cancer is diagnosed the higher the chances of recovery.

Lung cancer can be treated with chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. 

For more information about lung cancer and for treatment advice, contact an oncologist.







Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Copyright © 2010 All rights reserved

This article was written by the medical research team at does not intend for any of the information on this site to be regarded as medical advice - it is meant as a starting point for understanding treatment details and options before contacting a registered, licensed doctor. We advise all patients to seek medical advice from a doctor.
View sources

© 2010 Medstar LLC. All rights reserved. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of' s terms of use and privacy policy.

The information on this site is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a licensed medical practitioner. If you are experiencing a serious medical condition call your local emergency services or your doctor.