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Lung cancer is characterized by presence of malignant tumor cells which are destroying the healthy lung tissue. There are several types of lung cancer but the most common is bronchogenic carcinoma which accounts for about 90% of all lung cancers.

A recent research indicated that inhaling carcinogen substances poses the biggest risk for lung cancer development and the most common mean of exposure to such substances is tobacco smoking. The risk of developing lung cancer increases sharply the more you smoke and the longer you smoke.

Incidence

Lung cancer is one of the most lethal of cancers worldwide, causing up to 3 million deaths annually. Only one in ten patients diagnosed with this disease will survive the next five years. Although lung cancer was previously an illness that mostly affected men, the lung cancer rate for women has been increasing in the last few decades, which has been attributed to the rising number of female smokers. Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths in both men and women in the United States. More than 154,000 Americans died from lung cancer in 2002. Still, more than 90% of lung cancers are preventable.

Signs and symptoms of lung cancer

Symptoms that suggest lung cancer include:

  • dyspnea (shortness of breath)
  • hemoptysis (coughing up blood)
  • chronic cough or change in regular coughing pattern
  • wheezing
  • chest pain or pain in the abdomen
  • cachexia (weight loss), fatigue and loss of appetite
  • dysphonia (hoarse voice)
  • clubbing of the fingernails (uncommon)
  • difficulty swallowing
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