Lung Cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world. The two main types of lung cancer are non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. The types are based on the way the cells look under a microscope. Non-small cell lung cancer is much more common than small cell lung cancer.
Cigarette smoking causes most lung cancers. The more cigarettes you smoke per day and the earlier you started smoking, the greater your risk of lung cancer. High levels of pollution, radiation, and asbestos exposure may also increase risk.
Tumors in the lung can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (lung cancer). The malignant tumors:
- May be a threat to life
- Can invade nearby organs and tissues
- Can spread to other parts of the body
- Often can be removed but may grow back
Lung cancer cells can spread by breaking away from a lung tumor. They can travel through blood vessels or lymph vessels to reach other parts of the body. After spreading, cancer cells may attach to other tissues and grow to form new tumors that may damage those tissues.
Signs & Symptoms
Signs of non-small cell lung cancer include a cough that doesn’t go away and shortness of breath. Sometimes lung cancer does not cause any signs or symptoms. It may be found during a chest x-ray done for another condition. Signs and symptoms may be caused by lung cancer or by other conditions.
Check with your doctor if you have any of the following:
- Chest discomfort or pain
- A cough that doesn’t go away or gets worse over time
- Trouble breathing
- Blood in sputum (mucus coughed up from the lungs)
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss for no known reason
- Feeling very tired
- Trouble swallowing
- Swelling in the face and/or veins in the neck
Lung cancer is treated in several ways, depending on the type of lung cancer and how far it has spread. People with non-small cell lung cancer can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of these treatments. People with small cell lung cancer are usually treated with radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Your OHC doctor will help you determine the best care plan for you.
- Surgery. An operation where doctors cut out cancer tissue.
- Radiation therapy. Using high-energy rays (similar to X-rays) to kill the cancer.
- Targeted therapy. Using drugs to block the growth and spread of cancer cells. The drugs can be pills you take, or medicines given in your veins.
- Immunotherapy (biological therapy) is a type of treatment that uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. The therapy mainly consists of stimulating the immune system to help it do its job more effectively. It can also involve adding things to your immune system, such as man-made proteins.
- Chemotherapy. Using special medicines to shrink or kill the cancer. The drugs can be pills you take, or medicines given in your veins, or sometimes both.
There are many new promising cancer treatments being evaluated in clinical trials. As a leader in clinical trials in the region, OHC provides adult patients with early access to these and other new treatments.