Lung Cancer FAQs

April 23, 2024
Lung Cancer FAQs

Lung cancer forms in the tissues of the lungs. It is caused by cells dividing rapidly in the lungs without control. Just over 540,000 Americans are diagnosed with lung cancer at some point in their lives. It is currently the leading cancer killer in both women and men.

Certain misconceptions about lung cancer exist, such as the relationship between smoking and lung cancer. Here is some information about lung cancer as well as the answers to commonly asked questions about it.

Can people who have never smoked or used tobacco develop lung cancer?

Yes. A non-smoker can develop lung cancer, though lung cancer is most common amongst smokers, for both women and men. Men who smoke regularly are 23 more times more likely than nonsmokers to develop lung cancer. While smoking and/or using tobacco puts you at a higher risk for developing lung cancer, it is not the only cause.

The American Cancer Society reports that nearly 20 percent of all lung cancer deaths in the US affect non-smokers. Secondhand smoke exposure and inhalation is the other most common cause of lung cancer fatalities. Risk factors other than smoking include air pollution, exposure to radon gas, asbestos, and genetic mutations.

Are there multiple variations of lung cancer?

Yes, there are two types of lung cancer: non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung (SCLC) cancer. NSCLC is the most common and accounts for about 85% of lung cancer patients. SCLC is much less common and tends to develop more quickly.

Small cell lung cancer is more aggressive. Metastasis, which takes place when cancer spreads to other parts of the body, usually happens with the small cell variation. This means that SCLC is often diagnosed when it has already spread outside of the lungs. NSCLC grows at a much less aggressive pace.

What are the symptoms of lung cancer?

Lung cancer symptoms usually do not show until the cancer has advanced and grown steadily. People diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer usually exhibit no symptoms in the early stages, though some people do.

Symptoms of lung cancer include coughing up blood, a recurring cough that does not go away, chest pain, shortness of breath, headaches, wheezing, unexplained loss of weight, and more.

How many stages of lung cancer are there and what occurs in each stage?

Non-small cell lung cancer has four stages:

  • Stage 1: cancer is found only in the lung
  • Stage 2: cancer is found in the lung and surrounding lymph nodes
  • Stage 3: cancer is detected in both the lungs and lymph nodes in the chest area
  • Stage 4: cancer has spread to both lungs or another organ

Small cell lung cancer has two general stages. In the limited stage, lung cancer is only found in one of the lungs or nearby lymph nodes. In the extensive stage, which is when most SCLC patients are diagnosed, cancerous cells have metastasized to both lungs or around the body.

How is lung cancer treated?

What is the most appropriate lung cancer treatment depends on the type and how it presents (Stage).  Surgery, Radiation Therapy, Chemotherapy, or Immunotherapy are all standard of care options that may be recommended alone or used in combination.  

It is important to have cancer doctors you can trust if you require lung cancer treatment. Lung cancer treatments vary from person to person and each individual needs a unique treatment plan. BASS Medical Group has a team of doctors you can depend on to provide exceptional lung cancer treatment that is right for you. Visit our website or contact us at (925) 954-8786.