There are two main types of lung cancer:
- Non-small cell
- Small cell (SCLC)
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type and is broken down into three subsequent types of cancer:
- Adenocarcinoma, which develops from mucus-producing cells that line the airways.
- Squamous cell carcinoma develops in the cells that lines the airways. It is usually caused by smoking.
- Large cell carcinoma is named because of how the cancer cells look when examined under a microscope.
SCLC also gets its name from how the cancer cells look when examined under a microscope. It’s usually caused by smoking, and very rarely develops in someone who has never smoked. It usually grows quickly and can spread quickly.
There is a third type of lung cancer which occurs on the covering of the lungs, but it is less common. Macmillan Cancer Support’s website has for more information about this.
The most common symptoms are:
- A cough for three weeks or more. A chest infection that doesn’t get better, or recurring chest infections.
- Feeling breathless and wheezy for no reason. Coughing up blood.
- Chest or shoulder pain that doesn’t get better. A hoarse voice for three weeks or more.
- Losing weight for no obvious reason. Feeling extremely tired (fatigue).
- The ends of your fingers change shape – they may become larger or rounder, known as ‘clubbing’.
It is widely known that smoking is the biggest risk factor in contracting lung cancer. Nine out of 10 people who get lung cancer are smokers or ex-smokers. However, people who don’t smoke can still develop lung cancer. Passive smoking slightly increases the risk of getting this cancer. Older people are more likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer, and if you have a close family member who has had this type of cancer it may also increase the risk. There are also environment factors that may increase the risk of lung cancer. These are being:
High concentrations of radon gas, which is found naturally in some areas of the country.
· Asbestos, which was used in certain jobs, such as the building industry. Its use is now banned in the UK.
· Air pollution. Recent research shows that air pollution can cause lung cancer.
Treatment for lung cancer depends on the type, where it is, it’s size, whether it has spread, and your general health. For more information about the treatment options available visit Cancer Research UK’s website.
Annie came to Penny Brohn UK to help her take back control after being diagnosed with lung cancer. Read Annie’s story.