Smoking and Lung Cancer
Lung Cancer accounts for fifteen percent of all cancer cases, and an estimated 170,000
people in the United States get lung cancer a year. (5)About 155,000 of those people die from the cancer. Recently, the rate of women affected by lung cancer has increased, while the rate of men affected has decreased. However, lung cancer is the leading cancer that kills both women and men. (1) So, what is lung cancer? Lung cancer is the uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells in the lung. (5) There are two main types of lung cancer: non-small cell and small- cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer (or NSCLC) is more common than small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) and occurs in about 80% of all lung cancer cases. (3)
Early lung cancer does not cause symptoms, so when the symptoms finally do show and the cancer is detected, it is already at an advanced stage. (1) Smoking has been shown to be the primary cause of lung cancer. About 87% of all cases occur in people who smoke. (1) However, not everyone who smokes gets lung cancer and not everyone who gets lung cancer smokes. One of the main symptoms of lung cancer is a chronic cough that lasts for more than two weeks. Another is constant chest pain. Other symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing blood, hoarseness, and repeated pneumonia or bronchitis. (1) There are also less noticeable signs such as unexplained fever, weight loss, or appetite loss. (2)
As mentioned earlier, there are two types of lung cancer: NSCLC and SCLC. NSCLC can be divided into three sections. First, there is epidermoid carcinoma which is usually starts in the large breathing tubes, and grows slowly. (5) There is also adenocarcinoma, which is found in the mucus glands and can vary in size and rate of growth. Finally, there is large cell carcinoma, which begins at the surface of the lung, and grows very rapidly. (5) SCLC, also known as oat cell carcinoma, has no divisions. It starts in the large breathing tubes, and grows fairly rapidly. This type of lung cancer is usually very large by the time it is diagnosed. (5)
There are also different stages of lung cancer. For NSCLC, there are four main stages. Stage I A/B is when the tumor has spread to the lymph nodes that are associated
with the lung. (2) Stage II A/B is when the tumor has spread to the lymph nodes in the tracheal area, including the chest wall and the diaphragm. Stage III A is when the tumor has spread to lymph nodes on the opposite lung or on the neck. Finally, Stage IV, the most severe stage, is when the tumor has spread beyond the chest. (2) On the other hand, SCLC only has two stages of cancer growth. Limited is when the tumor is only found in one lung and the nearby lymph nodes. Extensive is when the tumor has spread beyond the lung into other organs.
The treatments for lung cancer depend on the type, location, and size of the cancer. (3) One option is to remove the tumor through surgery; however, it depends on...