Cancer occurs when cells in the body divide without control or order. If cells keep dividing when new cells are not needed, a mass of tissue forms. This growth is called a tumor. Cancer growths can invade nearby tissue. It can then spread to other parts of the body. Regular damage increases the turnover of cells.
The following are known to damage to the lungs, and cause lung cancer:
First- or second-hand smoke from cigarettes, cigars, or pipes
Exposure to asbestos (a type of mineral) or radon (radioactive gas)
Things that may increase your chances of lung cancer are:
The doctor will use results from all tests to determine the stage of cancer. Staging is used to guide your treatment plan. Lung cancer is staged from 1 to 4. Stage 1 cancer is contained in a small area. Stage 4 caner is one that has spread to other parts of the body.
Lung cancer screening may also be recommended to long-term smokers. These tests can help to find earl stage cancer in those at high risk.
The goal of treatment is to remove as much cancer as possible and control the symptoms.
Surgery is done to remove the tumor and nearby tissue. Lymph nodes may also need to be removed. The type of surgery depends on the stage and area. Common choices include:
Segmental or wedge resection—a small part of the lung is removed
may be part of treatment. Radiation can kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. The therapy may also be used to relieve symptoms such as shortness of breath. External radiation is usually used to treat lung cancer. 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 as pills, injections, or through 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 chemical is injected into the bloodstream. It lingers in cancer cells longer than normal ones. 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—medicine or substances target parts of the cancer cells.
Immunotherapy—medicine or substances increase or restore the body's natural defenses against cancer.
To help reduce your chances of 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.
The American Lung Association and American Cancer Society both suggest that screening for lung cancer with a low-dose
may be considered if you are a smoker (or former smoker), aged 55 to 74 years, and have a history of heavy smoking.
Cancer immunotherapy. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/treatment-types/immunotherapy.html. Accessed March 17, 2021.
General information about non-small cell lung cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/lung/patient/non-small-cell-lung-treatment-pdq. Accessed March 17, 2021.
General information about small cell lung cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/lung/patient/small-cell-lung-treatment-pdq. Accessed March 17, 2021.
Lung cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/lung-cancer.html. Accessed March 17, 2021.
Non-small cell lung cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/non-small-cell-lung-cancer. Accessed March 17, 2021.
Small cell lung cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/small-cell-lung-cancer. Accessed March 17, 2021.
Targeted cancer therapies. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/targeted-therapies/targeted-therapies-fact-sheet. Accessed March 17, 2021.
What do I need to know about lung cancer screening? American Lung Association website. Available at: http://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/lung-cancer/learn-about-lung-cancer/lung-cancer-screening. Accessed March 17, 2021.
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.