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Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the lung. Majority of people who get lung cancer have been cigarette smokers, but not all people who smoke get lung cancer. And, some people who have never smoked get lung cancer. Normal lung tissue is made up of cells that are programmed by nature to create lungs of a certain shape and function.

Sometimes the instructions to a cell go haywire and that cell and its offspring reproduce wildly, without regard for the shape and function of a lung. That wild reproduction can form tumors that clog up the lung and make it stop functioning as it should. Because of the large size of the lungs, cancer may grow for many years, undetected, without causing suspicion. Lung cancer can spread outside the lungs without causing any symptoms. Adding to the confusion, the most common symptom of lung cancer, a persistent cough, can often be mistaken for a cold or bronchitis.


Lung cancer is not infectious and cannot be passed on to other people.

Cigarette smoking is known to be the cause of majority of lung cancers. The risk of developing the disease increases with the number of cigarettes smoked, and starting to smoke at a young age. If a person stops smoking, the risk of lung cancer is greatly reduced that is his or her chances of developing the disease are similar to that of a non-smoker after 15 years.

Lung cancer has always been more common in men, particularly over the age of 40. In recent years more women have started smoking, the number of women developing the disease has increased considerably.

Inhaling other people's cigarette smoke, which is known as passive smoking, slightly increases the risk of lung disease and cancer, although the risk is still much less than if one is a smoker. In some families smokers may be more prone to developing lung cancer due to a genetic link.

Exposure to certain chemicals and substances such as asbestos, uranium, chromium and nickel has been linked to lung cancer, but these are very rare causes. Though air pollution has been suspected as a cause of lung cancer it has been difficult to prove.



>A persistent cough or change in the nature of a long-standing cough

>A chest infection that does not get better

>Shortness of breath

> Coughing up blood-stained phlegm (sputum)

> Chest discomfort -- this may be noticed as a dull ache or a sharp pain when coughing and while taking a deep breath.

>Loss of appetite and loss of weight.


One can begin by seeing their family doctor (general practitioner) who can examine and arrange for tests or x-rays to check for any abnormalities in the lungs.

>Sputum cytology.
>CT Scan.
>Lung biopsy.


Surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy may be used separately, or together, to treat cancer of the lung. Surgery is the primary therapy (a lobe or part of the lung is removed). Radiotherapy is used occasionally for a long term control of disease. Treatment should be decided by taking into consideration a number of factors including your general health, the type and size of the tumor, what it looks like under the microscope and whether it has spread beyond the lung.


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