Lung cancer is mainly caused by smoking (90% of cases are linked to smoking, with the remaining 10% often linked to air pollution, second-hand smoke, or exposure to damaging chemicals like asbestos). Lung cancer affects more men than any other cancer, and is second only to breast cancer in women. Lung cancer becomes more common as we age, with the average age at diagnosis being around 70. Some 2 million people worldwide have lung cancer today.
Lung cancer can cause coughing (sometimes with blood), chest pain, shortness of breath, weight loss, and general malaise (feeling poorly). In the early stages lung cancer may cause no symptoms at all and the diagnosis is sometimes only suspected when a chest x-ray shows a suspicious mass or shadow. Definitive diagnosis requires a biopsy (tissue sample).
The treatment of lung cancer may include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Disease prognosis varies depending on the type of cancer (some types are more aggressive than others), its spread, and the patient’s general condition, age, etc. but five year survival post-diagnosis, is around 15%. Early diagnosis does improve the outcome.
Lung cancer is a very nasty disease although it it is mostly avoidable through not smoking.