Really Understanding Lung Cancer
Lung cancer… everyone has heard of it. Perhaps you even know someone who has it or has died from it. It is a common disease, but that makes it no less serious. Carcinoma of the lung, as it is also called, is one of the most frequently diagnosed and battled forms of cancer. It is also a common cause of death in the United States. There are two reasons that lung affecting cancers are common – the first is because the lung covers such a wide respiratory surface when compared to other organs, there is a greater potential for exposure to cancer cells. It is diagnosed when there is a growth of malignant or abnormal cancer cells detected in the lungs of an individual. The second reason is that smoking is prevalent in our society, and nicotine is a well-known cancer-causing agent.
Smoking can cause lung cancer directly, by smoking the cigarette, cigar, or chewing tobacco. It also has been proven to be caused indirectly, by inhaling the fumes exhaled by a nearby smoker, or inhaling the fumes that come directly from the cigarette, cigar, or pipe itself. The indirect way is commonly known as “second-hand smoke”. Can non-smokers be diagnosed with this type of cancer? Yes, they can. A non-smoker can have lung cancer due to the exposure factors mentioned above, or they can be diagnosed with the disease due to an over exposure to radiation or air pollution. A family history of the disease can increase risk, as well as an overly processed diet and general lack of good health, as unhealthy cells in the body are less able to fight off diseases.
There are generally two types of lung related cancer in common existence today-small cell and non small cell lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer is actually the more aggressive of the two types of lung cancer, though it is seen in fewer patients. Small cell lung cancer affects the alveoli of the lung. Humans possess millions of these alveoli in the lungs, allowing the disease to grow quickly.
The symptoms can be vague, and are often associated with many lesser ailments, so it can be difficult to evaluate whether or not a person actually has lung cancer as compared to bronchitis, for instance. There may be a general cough and weakness felt in the body. If someone is experiencing shortness in breath that is not considered normal for them, then that can be a warning sign to seek out a proper diagnosis via radiologic examination. Any regular smoker should be aware of changes in any of their breathing functions, especially if one begins to spit or cough up blood and lose the normal appetite for food.
Most often, once a patient is diagnosed, a long and regular routine of chemotherapy, along with different radiologic exams and possibly surgery, will be the required methods of treatment. It is often a combination of all three methods that will achieve the best results for such a dangerous disease.