Healthy Lung and Lung Cancer : Secondhand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke, causes approximately 3,400 lung cancer deaths and between 22,000-70,000 heart disease deaths in adult nonsmokers in the US per year. Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related death in men and the second most common in women. It is no coincidence that over 90% of lung cancer patients are smokers. Normally, the little hairs (cilia) and mucus that line the respiratory track are effective at preventing damaging or abrasive materials from making it into the lungs. The lung on the left side of this image is healthy and has all its natural biological barriers intact. Tobacco smoke destroys the precious cilia so that these protective structures are no longer on the job. Harmful irritants enter the respiratory tract, triggering mucus production but without the cilia, mucus is not able to mobilize along the respiratory tract and is unable to leave the body. Piles of mucus containing trapped inhaled materials can lead to serious lung diseases including cancer. The lung pictured on the right side of the image has developed the hollowed out spaces characteristic of squamous cell carcinoma.
Lung cancer, also known as carcinoma of the lung or pulmonary carcinoma, is a malignant lung tumor characterized by uncontrolled cell growth in tissues of the lung.
If left untreated, this growth can spread beyond the lung by process of metastasis into nearby tissue or other parts of the body. Most cancers that start in the lung, known as primary lung cancers, are carcinomas that derive from epithelial cells. The main primary types are small-cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) and non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). The most common symptoms are coughing (including coughing up blood), weight loss, shortness of breath, and chest pains.
The vast majority (80–90%) of cases of lung cancer are due to long-term exposure to tobacco smoke. About 10–15% of cases occur in people, who have never smoked. These cases are often caused by a combination of genetic factors and exposure to radon gas, asbestos, or other forms of air pollution, including second-hand smoke. Lung cancer may be seen on chest radiographs and computed tomography (CT) scans. The diagnosis is confirmed by biopsy which is usually performed by bronchoscopy or CT-guidance.
Treatment and long-term outcomes depend on the type of cancer, the stage (degree of spread), and the person's overall health, measured by performance status. Common treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. NSCLC is sometimes treated with surgery, whereas SCLC usually responds better to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Overall, 16.8% of people in the United States diagnosed with lung cancer survive five years after the diagnosis, while outcomes on average are worse in the developing world. Worldwide, lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related death in men and women, and was responsible for 1.56 million deaths annually, as of 2012.
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