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Types of Lung Cancer by Michele Singler

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As you may know, lung cancer is a very tedious disease. There are three different types of lung cancer; non-small cell lung cancer, small cell lung cancer, and lung carcinoid tumor. Knowing which type of cancer you have is crucial because it will affect the type of treatment you do or do not get and it may affect your prognosis.

Lung cancer is the most leading cause of death in the United States above all other cancers. In the early stages of lung cancer it can be hard to tell that there is anything wrong because people do not normally show symptoms until the cancer is further along. When the symptoms do appear you may start to notice things such as what they call the “smoker’s cough”, which is an ongoing cough that will not go away, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, wheezing, chest pains, losing weight, and pain in your bones. If a person notices one or many of these signals they should see a doctor immediately.

As you probably know, smoking is the number one leading cause of lung cancer, but there are other factors that can cause the cancer as well. Being around second hand smoke, radon gas, exposure to asbestos and harmful chemicals in the environment, excessive alcohol use, and family history all contribute to causes of lung cancer. While smoking is the number one cause, there are still many non- smokers who are diagnosed with the disease. Sometimes we may never know what the cause is.

Once you are diagnosed, the cancer is staged and the stage of your cancer will depend on your treatment.  Stage one cancer is contained only in the lung and is usually smaller than five centimeters. Stage two has usually grown larger than two inches or has invaded the chest wall or diaphragm and has spread to the lymph nodes. By stage three the tumor has grown excessively large and spread to other major organs. By stage four the tumor has probably spread to the other lung and all other parts of the body.

After being diagnosed, your treatment options normally include radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, or targeted drug therapy. The type of treatment you receive is based on the stage of your cancer. The treatment for stage one lung cancer is usually combined with surgery and chemotherapy. Stage two is treated with a combination of chemotherapy and radiation, and sometimes surgery. If you are diagnosed with stage three the treatment would be again, a combination of chemotherapy and radiation, chemotherapy, clinical trials, and occasionally surgery. If you are diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, the worst stage, the treatment would be chemotherapy, clinical trials, targeted drug therapy, and supportive care.

Being diagnosed in the early stages greatly increases your chance for survival, but unfortunately survival rates are low and most of the time the disease is fatal. Once people are aware that their disease is incurable, some may turn to alternative medicines or try extreme changes in their diet. The best way to survive lung cancer is to prevent it all together.


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