Lung cancer starts when abnormal cells (cancerous cells) grow in the lungs, invade lung tissue, and form into tumors. Cancer in the lungs can start in any part of the lungs and affect all parts of the respiratory system. Lung cancer can then spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.
Types of Lung Cancer
There are two types of lung cancer: small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In most cases, SCLC tends to grow and spread throughout the body more quickly than NSCLC. According to the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, lung cancer continues to cause the most cancer-related deaths in both the United States and the world.
Causes of Lung Cancer
Most cases of lung cancer result from smoking. However, lung cancer starts in those people who have never smoked but possibly suffered exposure to other chemicals and substances. These have the ability to increase the lung cancer risk of those who remain exposed for long periods of time. According to Mayo Clinic, some of those substances and environments include the following:
- Secondhand smoke exposure. While smoking is the main cause of lung cancer, if you have had substantial exposure to secondhand smoke from others, your risk of lung cancer increases as well.
- Prior radiation therapy. Lung cancer also starts if a person undergoes other types of traditional therapy in the chest area for previous cancers. Exposure to this type of radiation increases the risk of developing lung cancer.
- Radon gas exposure. Radon is a gas that occurs following that natural breakdown of the element uranium within a rock, soil, and/or water. Radon then becomes airborne and victims that inhale this radon gas can have higher risks of developing lung cancer. Radon gas has the potential to accumulate in any building.
- Asbestos and other carcinogen exposure. Certain substances such as asbestos, arsenic, nickel, and chromium can increase a person’s chance of developing lung cancer within their lifetime. Asbestos exposure is linked to the development of mesothelioma and other types of lung cancers.
- History of lung cancer in the family. As with other types of cancers, if someone has a family history of a disease, they have an increased risk of the development of that disease over their lifetime. The same is true with lung cancer. Any person with a parent, sibling, child, or close relative with lung cancer has an increased risk to develop lung cancer as well.
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Symptoms of Lung Cancer
Some early signs of lung cancer include shortness of breath, chest pain, hoarseness, losing weight without trying, bone pain, coughing, wheezing, and blood in any mucus that is coughed up. However, many of these symptoms appear in other much more benign conditions, and most people do not typically suspect they have lung cancer when they develop these symptoms. In some cases, once a person makes the decision to visit the doctor or healthcare provider regarding these symptoms, lung cancer has spread throughout the body. If lung cancer spreads beyond the chest, the patient will have additional symptoms related to that spread.
Diagnosis of Lung Cancer
Medical professionals will first examine a patient’s medical history and specific symptoms, along with a detailed cancer history in a family. Next, diagnostic testing such as chest X-rays or a CT scan will reveal the type of cancer cells, and if the cancer cells spread to any other area of the body. These tests show the doctor exactly how far cancer spread in the body and the stage of cancer. Cancer stages refer to how large and extensive the cancer is within a patient’s body.
Lung Cancer Treatments
Depending on the type and severity of a patient’s lung cancer, surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or a combination of these treatments will occur. In some cases, specific targeted therapy or even immunotherapy may help a lung cancer patient.
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Consider an Attorney Regarding Your Lung Cancer
Lung cancer typically happens from smoking over several years, however, there are other ways that lung cancer starts as well. If you believe you developed lung cancer as a result of someone else’s negligence, or failure to warn, such as a company that used asbestos-containing products without disclosure, you may have the legal right to pursue compensation for any medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering you endured. Consider contacting our legal team at Pintas & Mullins at (800) 794-0444. We can help you understand how one of our lawyers can help you understand your legal rights, and can help you with your next legal steps.