Main types of lung cancer:
- Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer
- Small cell lung cancer makes up about 20% of all lung cancer cases
If the lung cancer is made up of both types, it is called mixed small cell/large cell cancer.
If the cancer started somewhere else in the body and spread to the lungs, it is called metastatic cancer to the lung.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors:
Lung cancer is the deadliest type of cancer for both men and women. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than breast, colon, and prostate cancers combined.
Lung cancer is more common in older adults. It is rare in people under age 45. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer.
Secondhand smoke (breathing the smoke of others) increases your risk of lung cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 3,000 non-smoking adults will die each year from lung cancer related to breathing secondhand smoke.
The following may also increase one's risk of lung cancer:
- High levels of air pollution
- High levels of arsenic in drinking water
- Radon gas
- Family history of lung cancer
- Radiation therapy to the lungs
- Exposure to cancer-causing chemicals such as uranium, beryllium, vinyl chloride, nickel chromates, coal products, mustard gas, gasoline, and diesel exhaust
Symptoms depend on the specific type of cancer you have, but may include:
- Cough that doesn't go away
- Coughing up blood
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Loss of appetite
- Losing weight without trying
These symptoms can also be due to other, less serious conditions, so it is important to talk to your health care provider.