August 1 is World Lung Cancer Day

Lung Cancer

Condition Basics

What is lung cancer?

Lung cancer is the out-of-control growth of abnormal cells in the lungs. These cells can invade nearby tissues and form tumors. Lung cancer can start anywhere in the lungs and affect any part of the respiratory system.

The main types of lung cancer are non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). NSCLC is the most common type. SCLC usually grows quickly and is more likely to spread than NSCLC.

What causes it?

Most lung cancer is caused by smoking. But sometimes lung cancer develops in people who have never smoked. A few people get lung cancer after being exposed to other harmful substances. Cancer may also be caused by gene changes that happen as you get older.

What are the symptoms?

The first signs of lung cancer may include a new cough or a cough that doesn't go away, wheezing, or feeling short of breath. Other signs may include chest pain and blood in mucus that is coughed up.

How is it diagnosed?

Your symptoms, your medical history, and any history of cancer in your family will help your doctor decide how likely it is that you have lung cancer. You may need tests to be sure. Lung cancer is usually first found on a chest X-ray or a CT scan.

How is lung cancer treated?

Treatment for lung cancer is based on the type and stage of the cancer and other things, such as your overall health. The main treatments are surgery to remove the cancer, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. There are also other options, such as immunotherapy or targeted therapy. A clinical trial may be a good choice.

How can you lower your risk?

Some lung cancers can't be prevented. But if you smoke, quitting smoking is the best step you can take to prevent lung cancer. If you want to quit, your doctor can recommend medicines or other ways to help.


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