What is lung cancer?

Lung cancer is a common cancer of the respiratory system that occurs when there is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the air passages of the lung. Lung cancer is the deadliest cancer in both men and women, according to the National Institutes of Health (Source: NIH).

Women who have never smoked may be more at risk for lung cancer than men who have never smoked. In fact, 47% of cases of lung cancer occur in women, and one in five women with lung cancer has never smoked. In contrast, only one in 10 men with lung cancer has never smoked, according to the National Lung Cancer Partnership (Source: NLCP).

Normally, cells in the lung that are old or damaged will stop dividing and die. These cells are replaced by healthy young cells. Lung cancer occurs when old or damaged cells continue to divide and multiply uncontrollably. These abnormal cells eventually develop into a malignant mass of tissue (tumor) and crowd out and destroy healthy cells in the lungs.  

If left untreated, lung cancer cells continue to multiply and spread to other parts of the body—a process called metastasis. As cancer progresses, it interferes with vital processes and functions of the lungs and other organs where it has spread.

Lung cancer often leads to life-threatening complications and is fatal in most cases. Seeking regular medical care offers the best chances of discovering lung cancer in its earliest, most curable stage. If you have lung cancer, following your treatment plan may help reduce your risk of some complications of lung cancer. Lung cancer is a highly preventable cancer because the majority of cases are caused by smoking. Quitting smoking greatly reduces your risk of lung cancer. Diagnosing lung cancer in its earliest stage provides the best hope for successful treatment and a cure.


What are the symptoms of lung cancer?

Lung cancer often produces no symptoms in its earliest stages, when it is most treatable. Symptoms may not occur for a decade or more after lung cancer has developed. When symptoms do occur, they often indicate that lung cancer has progressed to an advanced, less curable stage.

Symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • A cough that gets more severe over time Read more about lung cancersymptoms


What causes lung cancer?

Lung cancer is a highly preventable form of cancer; the majority of cases are caused by smoking. Exposure to smoke damages the cells that line the lungs. Over time, these abnormal cells multiply and form malignant tumors, which crowd out and destroy healthy cells.

Eventually, the cancer cells can spread to other organs of the body, such as the other lung, brain, bones, adrenal gla... Read more about lung cancercauses


How is lung cancer treated?

Treatment of lung cancer begins with seeking regular medical care throughout your life. Regular medical care allows your health care professional to best evaluate symptoms, such as chronic cough, and your risks of developing lung cancer, and promptly order diagnostic testing. These measures greatly increase the chances of detecting lung cancer in its earliest, most curable stage.

... Read more about lung cancertreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 6, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

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This Article is Filed Under: Cancer, Lung Cancer

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Which of the following is not a common symptom of lung cancer?