Lung cancer can be life-threatening, but doctors can also treat it if they catch it early on.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 218,527 people in the United States received a lung cancer diagnosis in 2015. Early diagnosis can help a person seek treatment, as early as possible, in the disease’s course.
Identifying lung cancer in its earliest stages can be difficult, however, because the symptoms may be similar to those of a respiratory infection, or there may be no symptoms at all.
In this article, we explain the nature of lung cancer, how to recognize the symptoms, and the ways doctors treat lung cancer before it becomes life-threatening.
What is lung cancer?
Cancer causes certain mutations in otherwise healthy cells.
Typically, the body programs cells to die at a certain stage in their life cycle to avoid overgrowth. Cancer overrides this instruction, causing cells to grow and multiply when they should not.
The overgrowth of cells leads to the development of tumors and the harmful effects of cancer.
In lung cancer, this pattern of cell overgrowth occurs in the lungs, which are vital organs for breathing and gas exchange.
Doctors typically diagnose two lung cancer types, small cell and non-small cell, depending on how they appear under a microscope. A person is more likely to have non-small cell lung cancer than small cell.
While anyone can develop lung cancer, cigarette smoking and exposure to smoke can increase the likelihood that a person will experience the condition. Lung cancer can develop if a person has a history of exposure to inhaled chemicals or other toxins.
|Read on: Lung cancer: Symptoms, treatment, and early diagnosis|