lung cancer facts to be aware of
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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 this condition.

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.

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