Known as "the silent disease" for not presenting serious symptoms until well into its advanced stages, lung cancer
begins as abnormal cells that grow in one or both of the lungs.
These abnormal cells form
a lump, or tumor, which interferes with the proper functioning of
to smoking as one of the major
causes of lung cancer, although not all smokers develop the disease. Current studies also show the role of environmental pollutants resulting in increased risk of developing lung cancer.
Lung cancer symptoms usually begin with chronic wheezing or a persistent cough that lasts for more than two weeks. This may be accompanied by persistent chest, back or shoulder pain. Sputum may increase in volume or change color, or blood may appear mixed with it.
At left, a normal, healthy lung as seen through an x-ray image. At right, lung cancer appears as a large white mass in the central part of the right lung.
In some cases, patients may suffer from chronic pneumonia or bronchitis before the full-blown onset of the disease. Today, a simple blood test for lung cancer is being tested to diagnose the disease years earlier than in the past, which will hopefully lead to much earlier treatment and better chances for remission.
Lung cancer is diagnosed with a biopsy via a bronchoscope (pictured); a needle biopsy; a surgical incision; or video- assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS).
Lung cancer is usually diagnosed as non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) the
most common form and small cell lung cancer (SCLC), both of which are further classified by lung cancer stages, or the progression of the disease at the time it is first detected.
Lung cancer treatment options depend on a number of factors including the stage of progression of the disease, along with the general health of the patient upon diagnosis. The major forms of therapy for lung cancer include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, or a combination of these treatments.
On the Web, learn more about managing the disease with basic facts and information on risk factors, detection and diagnosis, current studies and research, clinical trials, treatment and staging, and after treatment care for those diagnosed with lung cancer...
MedlinePlus: Lung Cancer - Here's an excellent, central clearinghouse basic facts and information, disease management, treatment options, educational videos, and question and answer topics.
eMedicine Health - Lung Cancer - Up-to-date statistics on the disease with details on staging and diagnosis, causes, pictures and x-rays, advice on when to seek treatment, complete overview of related exams and tests, treatment and after care.
Cancer.org - Extensive information on lung cancer for the media, professionals, patients and caregivers, including expert advice on lung cancer prevention and detection, where to find clinical trials, facts on women and lung cancer, and helpful support resources.
This information is intended as reference and not as medical advice. All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.