Cancer occurs when cells in the body divide without control or order. Normally, cells divide in a regulated manner. If cells keep dividing uncontrollably when new cells are not needed, a mass of tissue forms, called a growth or tumor. The term cancer refers to malignant growths. These growths can invade nearby tissues. Cancer that has invaded nearby tissues can then spread to other parts of the body.
The following can cause damage to the cells in the lungs, leading to lung cancer:
First- or second-hand smoke from cigarettes, cigars, or pipes
Exposure to asbestos (a type of mineral) or radon (radioactive gas)
The physical exam combined with all of your test results, will help to determine the stage of cancer you have. Staging is used to guide your treatment plan. Like other cancers, lung cancer is staged from I-IV. Stage I is a very localized cancer, while stage IV indicates a spread to other parts of the body.
is the use of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. This may also be used to relieve symptoms, such as shortness of breath. External radiation is usually used to treat lung cancer. With this treatment, radiation is directed at the tumor from a source outside of the body.
the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. This may be given in many forms, including pill, injection, and via a catheter. Chemotherapy is often used to kill lung cancer cells that have spread to other parts of the body.
Researchers continue to study ways to treat lung cancer. The National Cancer Institute considers these potential therapies:
Photodynamic therapy (PDT)—A type of laser therapy. A chemical is injected into the bloodstream. It is then absorbed by the cells of the body. The chemical rapidly leaves normal cells. It will remain in cancer cells for a longer time. A laser aimed at the cancer activates the chemical. This chemical then kills the cancer cells that have absorbed it. This treatment may also be used to reduce symptoms.
Cryosurgery—A treatment that freezes and destroys cancer tissue.
Other treatments that are being researched include:
Targeted therapy—involves using medications or substances to target certain molecules in the cancer cells
Immunotherapy—involves using medications or substances made by the body to increase or restore the body's natural defenses against cancer
To help reduce your chance of getting lung cancer:
Do not start smoking. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about how to successfully
Avoid places where people are smoking.
Test your home for radon gases and asbestos. Have these substances removed if they are in the home.
Try to avoid or limit occupational exposures, such as working with asbestos.
The American Lung Association and American Cancer Society both suggest that screening for lung cancer with a type of
may be considered if you are a smoker (or former smoker), aged 55-74 years, and have a history of heavy smoking (such as one pack a day for 30 years).
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