Smoking is responsible for 87 percent of all lung cancer cases in the U.S. Eliminating tobacco use is the key to reducing the impact of this disease.
Lung cancer occurs when cells in the lung grow and multiply uncontrollably, damaging surrounding tissue and interfering with the normal function of the lung. The cells can spread to other parts of the body. When the disease spreads, it is still called lung cancer.
Symptoms of lung cancer vary from person to person and may include:
- a cough that will not go away and gets worse over time
- constant chest pain, or arm and shoulder pain
- coughing up blood
- shortness of breath, wheezing or hoarseness
- repeated episodes of pneumonia or bronchitis
- swelling of the neck and face
- loss of appetite and/or weight loss
- clubbing of fingers
Many of these symptoms are not cancer, but if you notice one or more
of them for more than two weeks, see your doctor.
- Smoking: This is by far the most important risk factor. Also at higher risk are individuals who smoke cigars and pipes.
- Family history: Research is beginning to show that a family history of lung cancer may be a risk factor.
- Personal history: A person with a previous lung cancer diagnosis is more likely to develop a second lung cancer.
- Occupational or environmental exposure: People who are routinely exposed to radon or asbestos are at increased risk for developing lung cancer — particularly if they are smokers.
- Radiation exposure: People who are routinely exposed to radiation from occupational, medical and environmental sources are at increased risk.
- Industrial exposure: People who are exposed to certain industrial substances like arsenic could be at high risk.
- Air pollution: Byproducts from the combustion of fossil fuels can put people at risk.
- Environmental tobacco smoke: People who live with or who are routinely around smokers are at higher risk.
- Lung diseases: People with lung diseases such as tuberculosis (TB) are at higher risk.
Take time to discuss your own risks with your health care
provider who can best advise you on the screening exams and
risk-reduction strategies that are right for you.
Cancer screenings are medical tests that are performed when a
person has no symptoms. There presently are no effective screening
tests to find lung cancer early.
X-rays and/or laboratory analysis of the cells in phlegm and fiber optic screening are limited in detecting lung cancer before it spreads.