Basic Lung Cancer Facts
Cancer takes thousands of lives every year on a worldwide scale. Lung carcinomas or those which spread to the lungs are the most serious and deadly of this disease. The lung cancer facts according to the National Cancer Institute state that hundreds of thousands of people die from this disease every year.
There are two main categories of lung cancer which can are further broken down by histology and location. The first and most common is non small-cell (NCSLC) and the second is small-cell (SCLC). Small cell is aggressive and usually detected in advanced stages, while non small-cell is often caught early on. Lung carcinomas include any cancer which develops in the lungs or airways. Secondary lung cancers are those which have migrated from other infected areas of the body.
Another variation of NSCLC is adenocarcinoma, which forms in the periphery of the lung tissue, and is common in smokers and non-smokers. Squamous cell, another NSCLC is found in the airways. This cancer is differentiated by the dead tissue and hollow cavity which forms in its center. Occurrences of adenocarcinoma happen approximately 40% of the time and squamous cell approximately 25%.
Doctors provide a patient prognosis by staging the cancer based on testing. Diagnosis begins with imaging, blood tests and biopsies. These tests determine the size of tumors, whether the cancer is metastatic and if it has reached the lymph nodes. The three factors are called the TNM system. Early stage cancer has the traits of T0 or 1, a tumor less than three centimeters long. Lymph node involvement is signified by N0, 1, 2 or higher. The existence or absence of metastasis is assigned an M0 or M1.
This system is used to place the cancer in a stage from 1a (best prognosis) to 4 (worst prognosis). Treatment for tumors found early on involves surgery and chemotherapy. Advanced cancers are treated with chemotherapy and radiation, referred to as chemoradiation.
Ongoing clinical trials are working on increasing survival rates in all lung cancers. In the near future a vaccine may be available for certain patients and advanced detection methods will help prevent the disease from progressing without treatment.