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Lung Cancer

The lungs are part of our body we use for breathing. This is called the respiratory system. It is made up of the
Nose and mouth
Windpipe (trachea)
Airways to each lung (the right main bronchus and left main bronchus)

Lung cancer is the second most common form of cancer in the UK after breast cancer. Smoking and passive smoking cause nine out of ten lung cancers. Men are more likely to be affected, although the number of women with lung cancer has been increasing. There are over 38,000 new cases of lung cancer in the UK each year.

The cancer develops from cells within the lungs (the organs responsible for breathing), the bronchi (air passages leading to the wind pipe) or the trachea (wind pipe). There are two main types of lung cancer: small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. They differ in the way they develop and the treatment they need. Small cell lung cancer accounts for about one in five lung cancers, and tends to grow very quickly. About four out of five lung cancers are non-small cell lung cancers.

Smoking is the major cause of lung cancer. It is responsible for 9 out of 10 cases. The risk increases with the number of cigarettes smoked. It increases even more the longer people smoke. Quitting smoking will reduce the risk. After ten smoke-free years, the risk may be halved.

Inhaling second hand smoke may increase the risk of lung cancer. A non-smoker who lives with a smoker has a greater risk of developing lung cancer than one who does not live with a smoker.


Radon gas, this radioactive gas occurs naturally in some parts of the UK such as Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Northamptonshire and Derbyshire. People who are exposed to radon are more likely to develop lung cancer. Residents of the counties mentioned can have their homes tested. They can contact the National Radiological Protection Board for further information.
Asbestos and certain chemicals
People who have worked with asbestos have a seven times greater risk of developing lung cancer than the general population. Other chemicals that may increase the risk of lung cancer include arsenic, vinyl chloride, nickel chromate, coal products, mustard gas, and chloromethyl ethers.

Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables may help lower the risk of lung cancer. However, a study has shown that taking beta-carotene (vitamin A) supplements may increase the risk in smokers.
History of lung cancer
Having had lung cancer before increases the risk of developing it again.
Prevention
Smoking is the biggest avoidable risk factor for lung cancer, as it causes nine in ten cases of the disease. Please see our reducing your risk section to find out how being a non-smoker or quitting smoking can reduce the risk of lung cancer.
Signs and symptoms
Lung cancer does not generally cause symptoms in the early stages. When symptoms do occur, they are usually a result of the cancer growing and causing pressure or pain. They include:
a nagging, persistent cough
wheezing and shortness of breath
recurrent chest infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis
blood in the sputum (phlegm)
chest, shoulder or back pain unrelated to pain from coughing
neck and facial swelling
hoarseness (a 'husky' voice)
unexplained weight loss
loss of appetite
unsteady walk and occasional memory lapses
bone pain or fracture not caused by injury.
People who notice any of these symptoms should see their doctor. The symptoms may have other causes, such as chronic smoking-related lung disease. However, they should always be investigated.

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