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Lung cancer originates from the tissues of the lung, typically in the cells lining the air passages. The two main types of lung cancer are: small-cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. They are diagnosed based on how the cells look under a microscope. Non-small cell lung cancer is more common and includes squamous cell carcinoma, adeno carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma. Small cell lung cancer is rarer but tends to be aggressive and difficult to find until it has already spread (especially to the brain).

Exterior Lung
  • Most common form
  • Occurs mainly in current or former smokers, but is also found in young adults, women, and people who have never smoked.
  • Usually begins in the outer regions of the lungs
Interior Lung
  • Usually begins in the center of the lungs
  • May cause symptoms at an early stage as compared to cancer in the outer lungs
  • Often spreads to other parts of the body because of constant flow of blood and lymph through the lungs
  • Most common form
  • Occurs mainly in current or former smokers, but is also found in young adults, women, and people who have never smoked.
  • Usually begins in the outer regions of the lungs

People who smoke are at greater risk of developing lung cancer than people who do not. The risk of lung cancer increases with the length of time and number of cigarettes you have smoked. If you quit smoking, even after smoking for many years, you can significantly reduce your chances of developing lung cancer.

Signs and symptoms of lung cancer typically occur when the disease is in an advanced stage. It is the most common cancer In India and is the leading cause of cancer-related mortality in men.

Risk factors
  • Tobacco consumption and inhaling secondhand smoke (smoke exhaled by the smoker) increases your risk for lung cancer
  • Poor living and working conditions are known to increase the risk of lung cancer. This includes exposure to arsenic, chromium, diesel exhaust, silica, nickel,and chemicals in the workplace or to toxic chemical particles from smoke clinging to household items like curtains, furniture
  • Inhaling asbestos fibers has been directly linked to increasing the risk to lung cancer and other respiratory conditions. Asbestos is widely used in house construction, automobiles parts and textiles.
  • Exposure to Radon that is released naturally from dirt and rocks, construction material, and natural cooking gas. It can accumulate in homes and buildings and is usually highest in the basement.
  • An unhealthy diet with a low intake of foods like carrots that are rich in beta-carotene, a Vitamin A deficiency, or drinking water contaminated with arsenic put you at a higher risk of lung cancer.
  • People with a family history of lung cancer in first degree relatives (parent, sibling, or child), sharing the same living space with an affected person, or have received radiation therapy to the chest area are at higher risk.
Stages of Lung Cancer

Lung cancer typically doesn’t cause obvious symptoms in the earlier stages, making early detection difficult without screening tests.

Non-small cell lung cancer has 4 stages.
Stage 1: Cancer is detected in the lung, but it has not spread outside the lung.
Stage 2: Cancer is detected in the lung and has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
Stage 3: Cancer is detected in the lung and lymph nodes in the middle of the chest.
Stage 4: Cancer has spread to other lungs and into the area surrounding the lungs, or to distant organs.

Small-cell lung cancer has two main stages, the limited stage and the extensive stage. In the limited stage, cancer is found in only one lung or nearby lymph nodes on the same side, while cancer in the extensive stage means it has spread throughout one lung, to the opposite lung or to distant organs.

Screening for Lung Cancer

Currently, a CT scan (computerized tomography scan) is the only way of detecting early-stage lung cancer. A CT scan uses many sequential X-ray images taken from various angles around your body and processes it to create detailed cross-sectional images (slices) of the body part.