Lung Cancer

What is Lung Cancer?

Lung Cancer is a type of cancer affecting the lungs. It is considered to be the number one leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. It is well-known that smoking increases a person’s risk of getting lung cancer significantly. If a person is able to quit smoking, even after smoking for many years, they can reduce their chances of getting Lung Cancer.

People who may have been exposed to harmful air over a length period of time are also at high risk of getting Lung Cancer. Certain work environments where there is a heavy presence of chemicals can contribute to development of Lung Cancer, whether the person was a smoker or not.

What are the Symptoms of Lung Cancer?

Lung Cancer symptoms may not show themselves easily. It can go undetected for some time.

Symptoms include

  • Coughing up blood
  • Coughing up bloody phlegm and mucous
  • A constant and sometimes painful cough, (smoker’s cough)
  • Feeling short of breath
  • Chest pains and wheezing
  • Difficulty speaking and hoarseness in the voice
  • Body pains
  • Headaches

How is Lung Cancer Treated?

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancerous cells. One or more chemotherapy drugs may be administered intravenously or taken orally. Chemotherapy is given in a series of treatments over a period of time, with recovery breaks in between. Chemotherapy is often used as a post-surgical procedure to kill any remaining cancerous cells. It can also be used before surgery to shrink cancers and make them easier to remove. In some cases, chemotherapy can be used to relieve pain and other symptoms of advanced cancer.

Radiation therapy can be used after surgery to kill any cancerous cells that may remain after chemotherapy and surgery. It may also be used as the first treatment for lung cancers that can’t be removed during surgery. For patients dealing with the advanced stages of lung cancer, radiation therapy can be used to relieve some symptoms. Those patients may be referred to palliative care which is a multidisciplinary approach to pain management in patients.

Some countries are offering targeted drug therapies in order to fight Lung Cancer. These drugs can target specific abnormalities identified in cells through testing. It is hoped that continued research in this area can result in more drug-related therapy for Lung Cancer patients.

Smokers who are trying to quit should see their healthcare provider immediately. Doctors are able to provide strategies and even prescriptions to help people stop smoking. If you are exposed to a potentially hazardous work environment with air quality issues, hopefully these concerns can be raised with your employer or local department of labor.

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Last Reviewed:
September 14, 2016
Last Updated:
August 09, 2017