Lung Cancer

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Lung Cancer Symptoms and Signs

In up to 25% of people who get lung cancer, there are no apparent symptoms at the time of diagnosis. In others, symptoms can occur from the cancer itself, from the metastatic spread of the cancer beyond its origin in the lung, or from so-called paraneoplastic syndromes that result from the production of hormone-like substances by the lung cancer cells. Common symptoms include:

  • cough,
  • shortness of breath,
  • wheezing,
  • chest pain, and
  • coughing up blood.

Other symptoms can include shoulder pain, hoarseness, or difficulty swallowing. Symptoms of metastatic disease can include headaches, vision changes, seizures, weakness, or symptoms of stroke. Symptoms common to many cancers include fatigue, unexpected weight loss, and depression.

Quick GuideLung Cancer Symptoms, Stages, Treatments

Lung Cancer Symptoms, Stages, Treatments

Lung cancer facts

  • Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths in both men and women in the U.S. and worldwide.
  • Cigarette smoking is the principal risk factor for development of lung cancer.
  • Passive exposure to tobacco smoke also can cause lung cancer.
  • The two types of lung cancer, which grow and spread differently, are small cell lung cancers (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC).
  • The stage of lung cancer refers to the extent to which the cancer has spread in the body.
  • Treatment of lung cancer can involve a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy as well as newer experimental methods.
  • The general prognosis of lung cancer is poor because doctors tend not to find the disease until it is at an advanced stage. Five-year survival is around 54% for early stage lung cancer that is localized to the lungs, but only around 4% in advanced, inoperable lung cancer.
  • Smoking cessation is the most important measure that can prevent the development of lung cancer. Continue Reading
Reviewed on 3/28/2016
References
REFERENCES:

Amos, C.I., et al. "Genome-wide association scan of tag SNPs identifies a susceptibility locus for lung cancer at 15q25.1." Nature Genetics 40.5 (2008): 616-622.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Lung Cancer." Nov. 6, 2014. <http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/lung/>.

United States. National Cancer Institute. "Lung Cancer." <http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/lung>.

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10. National Cancer Institute / Ytrottier/ iStock

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