Do you know these essential lung cancer facts?
Understanding lung cancer facts is important if someone you know has or
is suspected to have this disease. While the reality of lung cancer is
quite frightening, ignorance about it compounds fear.
Lung cancer is a malignancy that forms in the lung tissues. In most cases,
it affects the cells that line air passages within the lung. The cancer
often originates in the bronchi, although it can start anywhere in the
lung. It may also affect the glands underneath the bronchi.
Lung cancer fact - the disease, contrary to popular belief, does not start
all of a sudden. The impression that it has started suddenly arises
because the patient often has no symptoms prior to diagnosis. In reality,
the disease builds up over a few years. Parts of the lung may undergo
several pre-cancerous stages before the onset of the disease.
Since these pre-cancerous stages do not develop into a tumor or malignant
mass, it usually cannot be detected in a chest x-ray. The absence of
symptoms causes the problem to be overlooked. At this stage, the cancer
can be operated upon and cured. The unfortunate lung cancer fact is that
it is very rarely detected at this early stage.
After a while, the pre-cancerous stage changes and becomes an aggressive
malignancy. The cancer cells need nourishment - and new blood vessels
appear to provide nourishment. Eventually, a tumor develops that is large
enough to be detected in chest x-rays.
Here's the truly dangerous lung cancer fact - bits and pieces of the
cancerous tumor break off and spread to other parts of the body through
the lymphatic system and bloodstream. This process is called metastasis
and it results in other vital organs like the liver, brain, kidneys, etc
being affected by cancer.
By the time the cancer shows up in x-rays, it has already spread to other
body organs. It cannot be easily cured or controlled. This is the reason
why lung cancer survival rates are so low.
Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) are
the two main types of lung cancer. They can be differentiated when the
cancerous cells are examined under a microscope. There are significant
differences between these types of cancers. A key lung cancer fact is that
the disease type must be determined since the treatment methods adopted
depends on it.
Small cell lung cancer accounts for about 13% of all cases of this
disease. This type spreads rapidly to distant locations in the body and is
therefore extremely dangerous. Treatment will usually involve medication
designed to kill cancer cells throughout the body.
The major cause of small cell lung cancer is smoking. Non smokers and
those without exposure to second hand tobacco smoke almost never develop
Non-small cell lung cancer accounts for about 87% of all cases. There are
three kinds of NSCLC - adenocarcinoma (about 40% of all cases of lung
cancer), squamous cell carcinoma (approximately 25% of cases) and
large-cell undifferentiated carcinoma (about 10% - 15% of cases).
An awareness of basic lung cancer facts and disease symptoms will allow
this life-threatening condition to be detected earlier. This will
significantly improve the chances of a cure.