Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. for both men and women, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The American Lung Association (ALA) says that the rate of lung cancer has been dropping among men while the rate for women is increasing.

Though not all cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking, the majority are, according to the National Institutes of Health. In fact, ALA says 87 percent of cases can be traced to tobacco use. It's not just cigarettes either. The American Cancer Society (ACS) says cigar and pipe smokers have a higher risk of lung cancer too. The number of years a person smokes, the amount smoked per day and how deeply the person inhales all affect the risk of developing lung cancer. In addition, ACS says the chance of developing lung cancer is increased by second-hand smoke, i.e. exposure to the smoke in the air when someone else smokes. ACS, ALA and NCI all agree the best way to reduce the risk of getting lung cancer is to quit smoking - or never start in the first place.

Types of lung cancer

Of cancers that start in the lungs, there are two main types, according to the American Lung Association (ALA): non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. Each type grows and spreads in different ways and is treated differently.

Anyone who notices symptoms that can indicate the presence of lung cancer should see a doctor right away. The American Lung Association says these symptoms can include:

  • persistent cough, especially coughing up blood
  • persistent hoarseness
  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath and wheezing
  • swelling of the neck and face
  • loss of appetite or fatigue

These symptoms, of course, may also be caused by a number of other conditions such as pneumonia, so it's important to see a doctor as soon as possible for an examination and evaluation. For some people at a high risk of lung cancer - long-time smokers, for example - CT screening may be advised. Check with your healthcare provider.

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All Concept Communications material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.

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