Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer in both men and women in this country. According to the American Cancer Society, almost 220,000 people are diagnosed with it each year. Most cases are linked to tobacco smoking.

The lungs, which help you breathe, are two sponge-like, cone-shaped organs in the chest. When you breathe in, oxygen comes through your mouth and nose. It then travels through the windpipe (trachea), which divides into two tubes called bronchi. These take the oxygen to the left and right lungs. The inside of the lungs includes smaller branches called bronchioles and alveoli, which are tiny air sacs.

Each lung is divided into sections called lobes. The right lung has three lobes. The left lung, which has two lobes, is smaller than the right lung because the heart is also on the left side of the body.

The pleura is a thin membrane that covers the outside of each lung and lines the inside wall of the chest. It usually contains a small amount of fluid and forms a protective lining around the lungs that allows them to move smoothly during breathing.

Lung cancer forms in the tissues of the lungs, most often in the cells that line air passages. It occurs when cells in your lungs grow and multiply uncontrollably, damaging surrounding tissue and interfering with the lungs’ normal function.

Lung cancer may spread through your lymph system. Lymph is a clear fluid that contains tissue waste and cells that help fight infection. It travels through your body in vessels that are similar to veins. Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped organs that link lymph vessels.

Cancer cells can spread, or metastasize, to other parts of your body through the bloodstream as well. When lung cancer spreads to other organs, it still is called lung cancer.

At Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, lung cancer is treated with a multidisciplinary approach in which a team of experts including medical, surgical and radiation oncologists work together to develop an individual treatment plan based on each patient’s unique needs.

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Comprehensive Lung Program

Our goal is to treat lung cancer by developing a customized plan for each patient based on his or her unique needs. Our multidisciplinary approach to treatment means all of your health care needs will be in one place.

Learn more about our Lung Cancer Program

Types

Lung cancer is classified by the type of cells within the tumor. Each type of lung cancer grows and is treated in a different way.

Lung cancer types

Risk Factors

Cancer risk factors include exposure to chemicals or other substances, as well as certain behaviors. They also include things people cannot control, like age and family history.

Lung cancer risk factors

Screening

At Banner MD Anderson, we offer a lung cancer screening program that can reduce deaths through early detection and treatment. In less than a minute, the low dose, noninvasive Lung CT Scan checks for lung cancer in patients ages 55 to 80 years based on certain criteria.

Lung cancer screening

Symptoms

Most cancers have the same symptoms as other, less serious conditions. Still, it’s important to know the signs.

Lung cancer symptoms

Treatment

Common cancer treatments include chemotherapy, radiation treatment and surgery. Doctors select the treatment for lung cancer based on your diagnosis and disease stage.

Lung cancer treatment