Understanding Lung Cancer and other tumors of the lung and chest
What is Lung Cancer?
Lung cancer is a term used to describe a growth of abnormal cells inside the lung. These cells divide and grow at a much faster rate than normal cells. The cancerous cells stick together forming a cluster known as a tumor. There are two types of tumors: benign and malignant.
Benign tumors are not cancer. The cells do not spread to other parts of the body and the tumor often can be removed. These tumors are rarely life-threatening.
Malignant tumors are cancer. These cells divide and grow out of control and do not carry out the function of the organ they are inhabiting. These cells can invade and destroy the tissue around them taking up space and putting pressure on surrounding tissues. Malignant cells can also break away from the tumor and travel in the bloodstream or lymphatic system to other areas of the body.
Most lung cancers are defined as small cell lung cancer or non-small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer is comprised of squamous cell, large cell and adenocarcinomas. Five percent of lung cancers are made up of rarer tumors called carcinoids, sarcomas and mesotheliomas.
Types of Lung Cancers
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer:
This is the most common type of lung cancer accounting for approximately 75% of all lung cancers.
Adenocarcinoma: This is the most common type of lung cancer. It has the tendency to produce clumps of mucus/sputum in the smaller airways.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This type of cancer is more common in men and older people of both sexes. It tends to grow more in the larger central airways than the outer lung. This type of cancer may grow large enough to block the air traveling to a part of the lung causing lung collapse.
Large Cell Carcinoma: This type of cancer usually occurs in the outer portion of the lung.
Small Cell Lung Cancer:
This type of cancer usually develops in the central areas of the lung and has the highest association with smoking.
This is an aggressive type of lung cancer cell which divides, grows and spreads rapidly.
Other types of Lung Cancer: (5 percent of all lung cancers)
Carcinoid tumor: This is a rare and usually benign tumor of the lung which affects hormone-producing organs and glands in the body.
Mesothelioma: This usually affects older men who have worked with asbestos directly or with asbestos products in the industry trade. Typically this cancer is found in the lining of the lungs and has a tendency to cause fluid build-up. This fluid may need to be drained to improve ease of breathing.