Cancer is a devastating illness and results in the most deaths second only to heart disease.
There are many kinds of cancer which can range from types that are relatively easy to diagnose and treat to the top
10 deadliest types. Of these types, lung cancer is the deadliest form of cancer and has claimed 792,495 lives
between 2003 and 2007. The estimated new cases and
deaths from lung cancer (non-small cell
and small cell combined) in the United States in 2012 are successively 226,160 (new cases) and 160,340 (deaths)
according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). We will review the specifics of this type of cancer in
greater detail and provide some future outlook and treatment options.
The incidence of lung cancer appears to be tied closely to those who smoke or use tobacco. It is also tends to affect people between the ages of 55 and 65 years of
age. The disease can often develop quickly and by the time it is
diagnosed, it can be much more difficult to treat.
There are two major types of lung cancer. One is called non-small cell
lung cancer. It is the most common type of lung
cancer. The second type of lung cancer is called small cell lung
cancer and accounts for about 20% of all lung cancer cases. It
is less common, but tends to spread more quickly than the non-cell type and is therefore
deadlier. Sometimes a person may have lung cancer which is made
up of both types of the disease. In this case, chance to survive decreases considerably.
Lung cancer normally begins in the tissues of the lungs. Within the
lungs are tubes called bronchi. Most lung cancer forms in the cells
which line these tubes. In some cases a person develops cancer in
another organ or part of the body and it spreads to the lungs. If the
lung becomes affected in this way, the disease is called metastatic cancer.
As indicated earlier, lung cancer tends to affect people between 55 to 65. It is fairly rare for individuals younger than 45 to be a
victim. Since cigarette smoking is the leading cause of lung
cancer, the more cigarettes you smoke the greater your chances are of eventually developing the
disease. Secondhand smoke can also increase the risk of someone
developing cancer. As a matter of fact, the American Cancer
Society estimates that 3,000 nonsmoking adults will develop lung cancer in the US by breathing secondhand
Other factors which can increase the risk of developing lung cancer include the following:
A family history of lung cancer
Exposure to asbestos (mesothelioma) or other cancer causing agents such as coal, gasoline, diesel
exhaust, uranium, vinyl chloride, and others
High levels of pollutants in the air
High levels of chemicals such as arsenic in the water
There are a variety of symptoms which are often associated with the onset of lung cancer:
There are other symptoms which can be more closely associated with later state lung cancer. They may include the following:
However keep in mind that there may be little to no symptoms to lung cancer until the disease has progressed
more. This can make it much more difficult to treat since the disease
has progressed much further.
There are a number of aggressive treatments which can be used for lung cancer cases. This can often include radiation therapy or chemotherapy to kill the cancer
cells. The results are improving in terms of slowing down the
progression or even achieving remission. But a complete cure is still
elusive. A great deal of effort is underway to improve the long term
prospects for patients and ultimately develop a cure.