What is Lung Cancer?
- Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells that start off in one or both lungs; usually in the cells that line the air passages. The abnormal
cells do not develop into healthy lung tissue, they divide rapidly and form
- Malignant tumors, the more dangerous ones, spread to other parts of the
body either through the bloodstream or the lymphatic system.
- Primary lung cancer originates in the lungs, while secondary lung cancer starts somewhere else in the body, metastasizes, and reaches the
Symptoms of Lung Cancer
What Causes Lung Cancer?
- The incidence of lung cancer is strongly correlated with cigarette smoking, with
about 90% of lung cancers arising as a result of tobacco use.
- Pipe and cigar smoking also can cause lung cancer, although the risk is not as
high as with cigarette smoking.
- Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemical compounds, many of which have
been shown to be cancer-causing or carcinogenic.
- Asbestos fibers are silicate fibers that can persist for a lifetime in lung tissue
following exposure to asbestos.
- Cigarette smoking drastically increases the chance of developing an asbestosrelated
lung cancer in workers exposed to asbestos.
- Numerous studies have shown that lung cancer is more likely to occur in both
smoking and nonsmoking relatives of those who have had lung cancer than in the
- The specific genes, located on the q arm of chromosome 15, code for proteins
that interact with nicotine and other tobacco toxins (nicotinic acetylcholine
Treatment of Lung Cancer
- About 10%-35% of lung cancers can be removed surgically, but removal does not always result in a cure, since the tumors may already have spread and can recur at a later time.
- It is important to note that although a tumor may be anatomically suitable for resection, surgery may not be possible if the person has other serious conditions (such as severe heart or lung disease) that would limit their ability to survive an operation.
- The surgical procedure chosen depends upon the size and location of the tumor.
- Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill
dividing cancer cells.
- If the digestive organs are in the field exposed to radiation, patients may
experience nausea,vomiting, or diarrhea.
- Radiation therapy can irritate the skin in the area that is treated, but this
irritation generally improves with time after treatment has ended
- Chemotherapy refers to the administration of drugs that stop the growth of
cancer cells by killing them or preventing them from dividing.
- Chemotherapy may be given alone, as an adjuvant to surgical therapy, or
in combination with radiotherapy.
- Other side effects include fatigue, weight loss, hair loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and mouth sores.
Links to some studies regarding Lung Cancer
Sources of Research
- With Every Breath: A Lung Cancer Guidebook (by Tina M.St. John, M.D.)