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What You Need to Know About Lung Cancer

Nine things you need to know about lung cancer.

Lung cancer is responsible for more cancer deaths than any other cancer in men and women. In fact, it claims more than 150,000 American lives every year. Despite these astonishing numbers, many people know very little about this disease. This is what everyone should know about lung cancer.

  1. Anyone can get lung cancer. In fact, 1 in 16 people in the United States will be diagnosed in their lifetime—that’s a new diagnosis every 150 seconds! And although smoking is the most common cause of lung cancer, almost two-thirds of all new diagnoses are in people who have never smoked or are former smokers. In fact, up to 30,000 Americans who have never smoked get lung cancer every year.
  2. Symptoms of lung cancer can be nonspecific. Lung cancer may not produce noticeable symptoms in the early stages, and many people aren’t diagnosed until the disease has advanced. But people who develop any of the following problems should see a health care provider who can evaluate these symptoms and develop a diagnostic plan:
    • A new cough that does not go away
    • Changes in a chronic cough
    • Shortness of breath or you are more easily winded
    • Pain in the chest area
    • Persistent wheezing
    • A raspy or hoarse voice
    • Unplanned weight loss
    • Bone pain
    • Worsening headaches
  3. Screening for lung cancer can save lives. As with many other cancers, a key to surviving lung cancer is catching it in its earliest stages, when it is most treatable. For patients who have small, early-stage lung cancer, the cure rate can be as high as 80% to 90%. Cure rates drop dramatically as the tumor becomes more advanced and involves lymph nodes or other parts of the body. Screening with low-dose spiral computed tomography (CT) scan has been proven to reduce lung cancer deaths in people at high risk for lung cancer. In fact, the National Lung Screening Trial found a 20% reduction in deaths from lung cancer among current or former heavy smokers who were screened with low-dose spiral CT, compared to those screened with a chest X-ray. Because CT scans can also give “false-positive” results—by mistaking scar tissue or noncancerous lumps for cancer—they’re recommended only for people at high risk. In these individuals, the benefits of early detection outweigh the risks of potential false positives. Lung cancer screening is recommended for people who meet these criteria:
    • Between 55 and 80 years old
    • At least a 30 pack-year smoking history (1 pack-year is the same as smoking 1 pack of cigarettes every day for an entire year)
    • Good health and no signs of lung cancer
    • No CT scan in the past year
  4. There are different kinds of lung cancer. About 80% to 85% of lung cancer diagnoses are non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and there are 3 main subtypes:
    • Adenocarcinoma. This is the most common subtype of cancer, but also much more common in people who never smoked, younger patients, and women.
    • Squamous cell cancer. This is more commonly linked to a history of smoking. It develops in the airways of the lungs.
    • Large cell carcinoma. This is an uncommon type of lung cancer, accounting for less than 10% of cases

    Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) accounts for around 10% to 15% of all lung cancers and very rarely develops in someone who has not smoked.

Read on: What You Need to Know About Lung Cancer | Cancer.Net

The health and medical information on our website is not intended to take the place of advice or treatment from health care professionals. It is also not intended to substitute for the users’ relationships with their own health care/pharmaceutical providers.

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