Lung Cancer Q&A

More in this section:

Lung cancer accounts for more deaths than any other cancer. More than 228,000 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2013, and more than 159,00 people will die from the disease this year. Less than 20 percent of lung cancers are caught early. The five-year survival rate for patients with lung cancers that are caught early is 52 percent, compared to a 15.9 percent five-year survival rate for most patients who are initially diagnosed with advanced-stage lung cancer.

What Is Lung Cancer?
Lung cancer is a disease of the cells that make up the lungs. Cancer cells grow uncontrollably and invade other tissue. Without treatment, cancer cells can grow into a large mass (tumor) and can spread to other organs. Over time, cancer cells replace normal cells and cause organs to stop functioning.

What Are The Risk Factors For Lung Cancer?
Risk factors are defined as anything that increases your chances of getting lung cancer. Our activities and habits, the environment in which we live and the genes we inherit from our parents all play a role in determining our risk factors.
The known risk factors for lung cancer are:

  • Tobacco smoking
  • Exposure to second-hand smoke
  • History of another cancer
  • History of other lung diseases
  • Family history of lung cancer
  • Contact with asbestos or other cancer-causing agents

What Is The Number One Cause Of Lung Cancer?
Tobacco smoking is the biggest risk factor for lung cancer. For every 100 people who die from lung cancer, 85 were smokers. The more you smoke, the higher your risk. If you quit smoking, your risk decreases, but the risk of lung cancer is higher for former smokers than people who never smoked.

What Are Some Common Symptoms Of Lung Cancer?
Common symptoms of lung cancer include bloody sputum, constant exhaustion, a high-pitched sound when breathing, hoarseness, chest pain, fever, pain when swallowing, loss of appetite, persistent coughing, recurring pneumonia or bronchitis, shortness of breath, weight loss and wheezing. These symptoms can often be attributed to other causes, so it is important to see your doctor to determine their origin.