Lung Cancer

National Cancer Institute - Lung Cancer

  • Estimated new cases and deaths from lung cancer (non-small cell and small cell combined) in the United States in 2007: New Cases - 213,380, Deaths - 160,390

  • Chest X-rays - A new study from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, shows that screening for lung cancer with chest X-rays can detect early lung cancer but also can produce many false-positive test results, causing needless extra tests.

  • National Lung Screening Trial - Both chest X-rays and spiral CT scans have been used to find lung cancer early. So far, neither chest X-rays nor spiral CT scans have been shown to reduce a person's chance of dying from lung cancer. This study will aim to show if either test is better at reducing deaths from this disease.

  • Smoking:

    • Cigarette smoking causes 87 percent of lung cancer deaths and is responsible for most cancers of the larynx, oral cavity and pharynx, esophagus, and bladder .
    • Secondhand smoke is responsible for an estimated 3,000 lung cancer deaths among U.S. nonsmokers each year .
    • Tobacco smoke contains thousands of chemical agents, including over 60 substances that are known to cause cancer.
    • The risk of developing smoking-related cancers, as well as noncancerous diseases, increases with total lifetime exposure to cigarette smoke .
    • Smoking cessation has major and immediate health benefits, including decreasing the risk of lung and other cancers, heart attack, stroke, and chronic lung disease .
    • Cigar and pipe smokers have a higher risk of lung cancer than nonsmokers. The number of years a person smokes, the number of pipes or cigars smoked per day, and how deeply the person inhales all affect the risk of developing lung cancer. Even cigar and pipe smokers who do not inhale are at increased risk for lung, mouth, and other types of cancer.
    • The Truth About “Light” Cigarettes - Key points

    • The lower tar and nicotine numbers on light cigarette packs and in ads are misleading.
    • Light cigarettes trick the smoking machines so that they record artificially low tar and nicotine levels.
    • Light cigarettes provide no benefit to smokers’ health.
    • Resources are available for people who want to quit smoking.
  • Radon - Radon is an invisible, odorless, and tasteless radioactive gas that occurs naturally in soil and rocks. It can cause damage to the lungs that may lead to lung cancer. People who work in mines may be exposed to radon and, in some parts of the country, radon is found in houses. The risk of lung cancer is even higher among people who have been exposed to radon who also smoke.

  • Asbestos - Asbestos is the name of a group of minerals that occur naturally as fibers and are used in certain industries. Asbestos fibers tend to break easily into particles that can float in the air and stick to clothes. When the particles are inhaled, they can lodge in the lungs, damaging cells and increasing the risk for lung cancer. Studies have shown that workers who have been exposed to large amounts of asbestos have a risk of developing lung cancer that is 3 to 4 times greater than that for workers who have not been exposed to asbestos. This exposure has been observed in such industries as shipbuilding, asbestos mining and manufacturing, insulation work, and brake repair. The risk of lung cancer is even higher among asbestos workers who also smoke.

  • Lung Diseases - Certain lung diseases, such as tuberculosis (TB), increase a person's chance of developing lung cancer. Lung cancer tends to develop in areas of the lung that are scarred from TB.

  • Personal History - A person who has had lung cancer once is more likely to develop a second lung cancer compared with a person who has never had lung cancer.

  • Reducing Risk:

    Quitting smoking will greatly reduce your risk of developing lung cancer.   About 10 years after quitting, an ex-smoker’s risk of dying from lung cancer is 30 to 50 percent less than the risk of those who continue to smoke.

    Quitting smoking will benefit you at any age. Some older adults may not believe there is a benefit in quitting smoking. In fact, there are many benefits.

  • If you quit smoking before age 50, you have half the risk of dying in the next 16 years compared with people who continue to smoke. By age 54, your overall chance of dying will be similar to that of people the same age who have never smoked.
  • If you quit smoking, you also reduce your risk for cancer of the esophagus, larynx, kidney, pancreas, and cervix as well as your risk for chronic lung disease and heart disease.
  • If you quit smoking before you get pregnant, you can reduce your risk for premature delivery and having a child with low birth weight.
  • Buy a radon kit (available in most hardware stores) that allows you to measure the radon levels in your home. The home radon test is relatively easy to use and inexpensive. Once a radon problem is corrected, the hazard is gone for good.
  • Vitamin E / Tocopherol Based on solid evidence, taking vitamin E supplements does not affect the risk of lung cancer.
  • Beta Carotene - Based on solid evidence, high-intensity smokers who take pharmacological doses of beta carotene have an increased lung cancer incidence and mortality that is associated with taking the supplement.
  • Selenium (NCAM) - A five-to-nine year safety and efficacy study tested whether selenized yeast, which is about 85 percent selenomethionine, could prevent nonmelanoma skin cancer. The study found that selenized yeast significantly reduced all cancer deaths and decreased rates of lung, prostate, and colorectal cancer.

Squamous Cancer

Small Cell Undifferentiated Carcinoma