Lung cancer is the deadliest form of cancer in the world today. It claims over a million lives worldwide, more than most other cancers (excluding skin and blood cancers) combined. It is characterized by the out-of-control growth of cells in the lungs, the two organs in your chest which pump out carbon dioxide and pull in oxygen.
Obviously, smoking is a big factor in whether or not people will develop lung cancer. Long-time smokers are much more likely to suffer from cancer of the lungs at some point in their lives. Non-smokers, too, can develop the disease, though in theirs usually some type of identifiable factor is involved, for example, second-hand smoke, pollution, etc.
As with most forms of cancer, there are different types of lung cancer that are identified by what cells they are effecting. These distinctions of type are extremely important because they help to determine what the ultimate course of treatment will be. Getting the proper treatment is important for increasing the chances of survival, and also for minimizing the distress and anxiety that patients may suffer from.
One of the major types of lung cancer is non-small cell lung carcinoma. It is the more common form, appearing in over 80% of all cases. It effects various cell types, as should be expected because this class is not a functional one but is determined largely due to similarities in treatment. These types general grow more slowly than the less common but more deadly type, that of small cell lung carcinoma.
Small cell lung carcinoma is usually found in the primary bronchial tubes. Appearing in around 15% of lung cancer patients, it can be quite deadly due to its rapid growth and habit of metastasizing. This is when a cancer jumps from its original, specialized cell type to another one. For example, if small cell lung carcinoma spreads from the lungs to blood or bones. Due to their nature, the lungs are often the victim of metastasizing cancers from other locations.
In the cases where the cancer effects the lungs primarily, the symptoms are largely the kind of thing you would expect. There may be shortness of breath, a chronic cough which may or may not result in blood, rapid weight loss, unexplainable fatigue, and numerous others. Because the effects are localized to the functions of the lungs, they may not appear to be as vague or out-of-place as those of many other types of cancer. Unfortunately, by the time the symptoms are serious enough for many people to go to the doctor to have them checked out, the cancer may have progressed to a dangerous point.
Over 85% of those who develop lung cancer are thought to have done so due to a smoking habit or exposure to a smoker. This is an incredible statistic. And while cancer is always influenced by many factors, it is a strong message to everyone that they can vastly increase the likelihood of living cancer free by simply living smoke-free.