Lung Cancer

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Lung Cancer
Dr. R. Chance DeWitt

Lung cancer is a malignant disease consisting of uncontrolled cell growth and tissues of the lung.  Sometimes this growth may lead to metastasis, which means invasion of adjacent tissue and infiltration beyond the lungs.  Lung cancer, responsible for most common causes of cancer-related deaths in men and women, as of 2004 was responsible for approximately 1.3 million deaths worldwide annually.  In 2010, 222,520 new cases of lung cancer were diagnosed, with 157,300 of these diagnoses ending in death.

Common symptoms of lung cancer include shortness of breath, coughing (with blood) and weighit loss.  Most of the time, once these symptoms have presented, the lung cancer may have already metastasized, or spread.  There are two classes of lung cancer.  The first is non-small cell lung cancer, which includes squamous cell lung cancer, adeno carcinoma and large cell carcinoma.  These cancers are most preferably treated by surgical reduction if the cancer has not already metastasized (spread).  The second class of cancer is lung small cell carcinoma, which is less common and mainly treated with radiation and chemotherapy.

Lung cancer is caused by a number of different factors.  Among the most prevalent are smoking (which accounts for more than 80% of lung cancers in the United States), exposure to asbestos (with studies showing that the combined exposure of tobacco and asbestosis rapidly increases the risk of lung cancer development), exposure to second-hand smoke, and some viruses that are known to cause cancers.  Usually diagnoses of lung cancer is performed by a chest x-ray or found during an incidental CT scan being performed for another reason.  Once found, a physician will perform either a fine-needle biopsy or bronchoscopy. 

The most effective preventive measures have been related to smoking cessations programs.   For more information how you can quit smoking today, call the Louisiana Tobacco Quit Line at (800) 784-8669.  Other valuable resources can be found on line at the following links: www.cdc.gov/features/tobaccofreeyouth/; www.quitwithusla.org; and www.smokefree.gov.