Facts About Lung Cancer

Everyone knows that smoking is bad and leads to illness and disease, including multiple types of cancer — the most well known of which is lung cancer. However, smoking isn’t always the culprit for the second most common type of cancer (after skin cancer). Here are some facts about lung cancer.

Three different types


NSCLC, or non-small cell lung cancer, is the most commonly found cancer among American adults, appearing in 85 percent of cases. It has three common subtypes: adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large-cell carcinoma.

SCLC, or small cell lung cancer, is the second most common and fastest growing, but it’s easily treated. Theses types of cancers have three stages. Localized cancer is only found in the lung(s); regional cancer spreads to the chest, specifically the lymph nodes and glands; distance cancer shows up in other parts of the body.

Lung carcinoid tumors are rare and grow slowly, but do not spread throughout the body. Mesothelioma commonly affects the lungs’ membrane — although technically not lung cancer, it’s similarly dangerous.


It does not discriminate by gender


Women can’t get prostate or testicular cancer, and men can’t get breast or ovarian cancer. But everybody breathes, and even in ethnic and age groups more prone to lung cancer, it does not discriminate by gender.

Older individuals and African Americans have higher risk


The youngest person ever diagnosed was 45 years old, but 67 percent of cases involve patients who are 65 or older, with an average age of 70. Anyone who has trouble breathing or a persistent cough in this age group, and especially those who smoked and/or worked in a factory or other industrial environment, should see their doctor.

African Americans are 40 percent more likely to be diagnosed with it overall, and African American men are 30 percent more likely to have it than African American women. Exactly why is unknown, especially for African American women, who statistically smoke less. An annual screening is recommended, as a low-dose CT scan can decrease mortality by 14 to 20 percent.


It is the most fatal


Among lung cancer patients, the survival rate over five years is only 18.6 percent. Deaths from lung cancer count for 25 percent of all cancer deaths. However, thanks to an overall decrease in smoking and awareness of workplace hazards, diagnoses are slowly decreasing. But radon is also a dangerous source, and it is an odorless gas that is difficult to detect. Even if you’re not particularly at risk for lung cancer, invest in a detector.

Other carcinogens like asbestos and air pollution come in third. These, along with radon, can sometimes be found in and around your home. If you buy a radon detector, a home inspection and air quality test is the logical next step. Uranium and coke (a substance made from coal and used in iron smelting) are also culprits, among other industrial chemicals. This is why former service members are also at risk, and anyone who worked in or around industrial or military sites. In cases like these, a Medicaid attorney should be contacted.

There’s also bad luck in the genetic draw, as some cases are relatively unexplainable. If you have a family history of lung cancer, this can increase your risk by 20 to 30 percent.

Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers and the most deadly, but it is preventable and treatable if caught early.  Although not particularly discriminatory compared to other cancers, there are populations who are more at risk. Regardless, a conversation with your doctor could be a life saver.