Welcome to the Patient Education Library of Texas Medical Institute
There are different types of lung cancer that are categorized as non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) or small cell lung cancer (SCLC). NSCLC is the most common type. NSCLC tends to grow and spread slowly. Three forms of NSCLC are:
Adenocarcinomas are generally located in the outer portion of the lung.
Squamous cell carcinomas generally originate in the center of the lung by a bronchus.
Large Cell Carcinomas- NSCLC
Large cell carcinomas can occur in any part of the lung. They are the fastest growing and spreading type of NSCLC
Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC)
SCLC is the fastest growing type of lung cancer. SCLC can be very aggressive and spread quickly to other parts of the body, such as the brain, liver, and bones. SCLC can cause large tumors. The most common type of SCLC is oat cell cancer, which is named for the shape of the cancer cells. SCLC may also be categorized as mixed small cell/large cell carcinoma or combined small cell carcinoma. Smoking is almost always the cause of SCLC.
Chest X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, and computerized tomography (CT) scans are used to provide images of your lungs to help diagnose cancer. A bronchoscopy may be used to view the inside of your lungs. This test involves inserting a thin fiberoptic tube through your windpipe (trachea) and into your lungs. A thoracoscopy is used to examine the lining inside and outside of your lungs. A biopsy may be taken of tissue or fluids to examine the cells for cancer. A biopsy can confirm the diagnosis and identify the type of lung cancer.
There is more than one type of staging system for cancer, and you should make sure that you and your doctor are referring to the same one. Generally, lower numbers in a classification system indicate a less serious cancer, and higher numbers indicate a more serious cancer. The stages may be subdivided into classifications that use letters and numbers.
Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) and Stereotactic Radiotherapy (SRT) are both methods of delivering radiation therapy to lung cancer tumors. SRS or SRT may be used instead of or along with surgery. SRS involves a single radiation treatment. SRT uses a series of treatments over time. Both methods spare healthy tissues because the radiation precisely targets the cancer.
The experience of cancer and cancer treatments can be a very emotional experience for you and your loved ones. It is important to embrace positive sources of support. Some people find comfort in their families, friends, co-workers, counselors, and faith. Cancer support groups are a helpful resource where you can receive support, information, and understanding from people with similar experiences. Ask your doctor for support groups near you.
You should have your home or business checked for radon gas. Radon gas rises from the soil beneath a home and may enter it through cracked foundation, pipes, or other openings. You cannot see or smell radon, and the only way to know if it is present is to have a specific test for it. Radon gas levels may be corrected if they are high.
Make sure that you are following safe working practices if you are exposed to asbestos, uranium, arsenic, and certain petroleum products at your job. Workers that smoke and are exposed to such chemicals have a greater risk of developing lung cancer.
Am I at Risk
Risk factors may increase your likelihood of developing lung cancer, although some people that develop lung cancer do not have any risk factors. People with all of the risk factors may never develop the disease; however, the chance of developing lung cancer increases with the more risk factors you have. You should tell your doctor about your risk factors and discuss your concerns.
Risk factors for lung cancer:
_____ Cigarette smoking causes the majority of lung cancer. Smoking pipe tobacco or cigars also can contribute to lung cancer. However, people that have never smoked may develop lung cancer.
_____ Inhaling second-hand smoke from others increases your risk of lung cancer.
_____ Exposure to high levels of air pollution increases the risk of lung cancer.
_____ High levels of arsenic in drinking water are associated with lung cancer.
_____ Radon gas in homes or businesses can cause lung cancer.
_____ You have a greater risk for lung cancer if your family members have had lung cancer.
_____ Lung scarring from chronic emphysema, bronchitis, and other conditions can raise the risk of lung cancer.
_____ Exposure at your job to cancer-causing substances, such as asbestos, uranium, arsenic, and certain petroleum products, increases the risk of developing lung cancer. People that are exposed to such products and smoke have even a greater risk.
_____ Radiation therapy to the lungs can increase the risk of lung cancer.
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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.
The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.