About Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is cancer that begins in the lungs, the body’s two breathing organs. The lungs, which are located on either side of the chest, are made up of areas called lobes. When a person breathes, air goes through the nose, down the windpipe and into the lungs through tubes called bronchi. Most lung cancer begins in the cells that line these tubes.

Lung cancer is grouped into different types based on how the cells grow and look under a microscope. The two main types of lung cancer include:

  1. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common kind of lung cancer. It is subdivided into several types, including adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and large cell carcinoma.
  2. Small cell lung cancer makes up about 15 percent of all lung cancer cases. Although less common, it tends to grow more quickly than other types of lung cancer.

Incidence and Mortality

Lung cancer is very common. In fact, it makes up roughly 13 percent of all new cancer cases in the United States, second only to breast cancer. Close to 7 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with lung cancer during their lifetime.

Although the mortality rate of lung cancer is declining, it is still the leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S. Early screening for lung cancer as well as prevention efforts, such as smoking cessation, can reduce the number of lung cancer deaths.

Early Detection

Lung cancer is more challenging to treat because it is often not diagnosed until more advanced stages. This is because symptoms typically do not appear in early stages. Sentara Cancer Network offers CT lung screening, a valuable tool used to screen high-risk patients for lung cancer before it progresses.