Lung cancer is a disease of uncontrolled abnormal cell growth in the tissues of the lung.
Lung cancer occurs when abnormal cells inside your lungs grow out of control. The cells form a lump (tumour) which can be malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous). The cause of lung cancer isn’t always known but smoking is the cause of nine-in-10 cases.
There are two types of lung cancer:
- Non-small-cell lung cancer– the most common type. This affects the cells that line the main bronchi and smaller airways. It spreads at a slower rate than small-cell lung cancer.
- Small-cell lung cancer. Starts in the middle of the lungs and is often associated with smoking. This form can spread quickly and often before it’s been diagnosed.
Symptoms and diagnosis of lung cancer
Lung cancer is the leading cause of death due to cancer in Australia but there are often no signs during the early stages.
There are often no signs for lung cancer during the early stages but symptoms that can develop include:
- Coughing, or for smokers who are used to a consistent cough, a change in the cough or the colour of the phlegm (sputum).
- Aching chest.
- Shortness of breath.
- Weight loss.
- Recurring lung infections.
To diagnose lung cancer a doctor will ask about medical history and conduct a physical examination. Other tests include:
- X-rays, CT, scans and phlegm tests.
- Bronchoscopy – an instrument is passed down the windpipe to allow a specialist to see the lung tissue and take samples.
- Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery – used to take tissue samples.
- Computered tomography scan – X-rays are used to build three-dimensional pictures of the body.
- Fine needle aspiration – used to get a small tissue sample.
- Mediastinoscopy – a tube inserted into the neck and to the lymph nodes to check for cancerous cells.
- Fluro-Deoxy Glucose (FDG) Positron Emission Tomographey (PET) Scan – an injection of radioactive material is used to build up a picture of the body.
THE E-CIGARETTE MAY HELP TO PREVENT THIS FROM OCCURRING