Lung cancer is cancer that begins in the lungs, the two organs found in the chest that help you breathe.
The lungs are made up of areas called lobes. The right lung has three lobes; the left lung has two, so there's room for the heart. When you breathe, air goes through your nose, down your windpipe (trachea), and into the lungs where it spreads through tubes called bronchi. Most lung cancer begins in the cells that line these tubes.
There are two main types of lung cancer:
- Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer.
- Small cell lung cancer makes up about 20% of all lung cancer cases.
If the lung cancer is made up of both types, it is called mixed small cell/large cell cancer.
If the cancer started somewhere else in the body and spread to the lungs, it is called metastatic cancer to the lung.
Patients with lung nodules that require further diagnostic testing or monitoring are excellent candidates for the Multidisciplinary Lung Cancer Clinic. Treatment of lung masses involves many different specialties; the center brings together expertise from multiple fields to provide a comprehensive treatment plan.
According to the American Cancer Society, if you smoke or are exposed to secondhand smoke, you are at risk of getting lung cancer- the leading cause of death among both men and women.
In addition to smoking, you may be at higher risk of developing the disease if:
- You are exposed to toxins where you work
- You are exposed to radon, radiation, asbestos or pollution
- You have certain lung diseases such as tuberculosis
- You have had lung cancer before
Experts agree that the easiest way to prevent lung cancer is to quit smoking or alleviate your exposure to secondhand smoke. Throughout the year, Norton Healthcare offers a smoking cessation program for people who want to quit. Participants have access to:
- Expertise of specially trained respiratory therapists
- A 13-week series of instruction classes in the Cooper-Clayton Method to Stop Smoking
- Personal support group available to address all aspects of smoking and addiction
For more information on the cessation program, call (502) 629-1234.
Signs and Symptoms
If you believe you are at high-risk for lung cancer, you should consult your doctor. Symptoms lung cancer may include:
- A cough that doesn't go away or gets worse over time
- Constant chest pain
- Coughing up blood
- Shortness of breath, wheezing or hoarseness
- Repeated problems with pneumonia or bronchitis
- Swelling of the neck and face
- Loss of appetite or weight loss