Lung cancer is a disease in which the cells of the lung tissues grow uncontrollably and form tumors. It is the leading cause of death from cancer among both men and women in the United States. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimated that in 1998, at least 172,000 new cases of lung cancer were diagnosed, and that lung cancer accounted for 28% of all cancer deaths, or approximately 160,000 people. In 2002, the ACS reported that more than 150,000 Americans die from the disease every year. Only 15 percent of people with lung cancer will live five years.
Types of lung cancer
There are two kinds of lung cancers, primary and secondary. Primary lung cancer (also called adenocarcinoma) starts in the lung itself. Primary lung cancer is divided into small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer, depending on how the cells look under the microscope. Secondary lung cancer is cancer that starts somewhere else in the body (for example, the breast or colon) and spreads to the lungs.
Small cell cancer was formerly called oat cell cancer, because the cells resemble oats in their shape. About one-fourth of all lung cancers are small cell cancers. This type is a very aggressive cancer and spreads to other organs within a short time. It generally is found in people who are heavy smokers. Non-small cell cancers account for the remaining 75% of lung cancers. They can be further subdivided into three categories.
Mai Tran, Teresa G. Odle, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,