There are many cancers around that many of us are hyper-aware of. Lung cancer is one of these, it happens when the cells in our lungs divide without control, which creates time and reduces breathing ability.
Now we are seeing more clinical trials for lung cancer, but it is still common cancer, with one of its primary causes being smoking.
Here are some of the main things you will need to know about lung cancer to fully understand it and know how to recognize it in yourself and others.
What Is Lung Cancer?
Cancer will cause changes to take place in otherwise healthy cells, making the cells grow too fast without dying. Every cell in our body will die at some stage, which helps to prevent too many cells from being in our body. But, with cancer, cells will often overgrow and multiply.
This causes tumors.
There are two main types of lung cancer known as SCLC and NSCLC. The former is the most common.
While lung cancer is often related to people who smoke, cancer of the lungs can occur in anyone. Chemical inhalation and toxin inhalation are also risk factors.
What Are The Symptoms?
Lung cancer will often come with symptoms, but not always. Sometimes symptoms do not show up until cancer has reached a later stage.
However, here are some of the symptoms a person might develop.
- Cough that may slowly get worse over time.
- Pain in the chest.
- Chest infections happen frequently, bronchitis and pneumonia maybe two of these.
- Hoarseness or other changes in their voice.
- Lymph nodes swelling in the middle of the chest.
- Wheezing or shortness of breath
More severe symptoms are also possible. These can include.
- Blood clots.
- Loss of appetite or weight loss.
- Bone pains and fractures.
- Coughing up blood.
- Chest pains (severe).
The symptoms will show up differently in each person. While these symptoms are common, they will not show up in everyone, and some cancer patients, may not experience any of these until the later stages of development.
What Are The Types Of Lung Cancer?
As previously mentioned, there are two primary types of lung cancer. These are NSCLC and SCLC. NSCLC stands for non-small cell lung cancer, whereas SCLC stands for small-cell lung cancer.
The only way these can be told apart is by viewing the cell size underneath a microscope. NSCLC is more common in the United States than SCLC is, as 84% of cases are usually NSCLC.
In NSCLC there are three subtypes. These are adenocarcinoma, large cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.
Then there is SCLC, which is less common, however, it is faster-growing lung cancer. Only 13% of all lung cancer cases in the U.S. are SCLC.
What Are The Causes?
As we often assume, a high percentage of lung cancer cases come from smoking. Smoking tobacco is the primary cause of lung cancer in patients. According to most studies, there is an estimate that around 80% of cases of lung cancer, and associated deaths are a result of smoking.
Yet, not everyone who has lung cancer will smoke, and not everyone who smokes will get lung cancer, it is subjective to the individual.
There are many other factors that can play a part in the growth of cancer cells.
Other causes can include but are not limited to:
- Environmental factors including air pollution.
- Second-hand smoke exposure.
- Chemical exposure. Risk chemicals include: asbestos, radon, and diesel fumes.
You can be at higher risk of lung cancer due to genetic factors. Genetic mutations can aid in the development of cancers and if relatives had this mutation happen, offspring can be at a higher risk.
Each of the two types of lung cancer have different survival rates. NSCLC has a higher rate of survival than SCLC overall. But we will look at this more in-depth.
Refer to the following table that compares NSCLC survival rates with SCLC survival rates in comparison.
|Stage of cancer||NSCLC||SCLC|
|Localized lung cancer||64% chance of survival||29% chance of survival|
|Regional lung cancer||37% chance of survival||18% chance of survival|
|Distant lung cancer||8% chance of survival||3% chance of survival|
|Overall survival rate||26% chance of survival||7% chance of survival|
As seen in this table, SCLC has a much higher chance of mortality than NSCLC. As it progresses it will also have complications that lower the chance of survival, so it is important to catch it early.