Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the lungs. These abnormal cells do not carry out the functions of normal lung cells. Approximately 85- 90% of lung cancer cases occur in people who have smoked. About 10-15% have never smoked but have had some significant exposure to either second hand smoke or to other toxins or radiation. There are most likely genetic factors which predispose a person to lung cancer. Lung cancer can spread to multiple organs.
Symptoms of lung cancer include shortness of breath, coughing up phlegm or mucus, especially if it persists or becomes intense, coughing up blood, recurrent lung problems, such as bronchitis or pneumonias, changes in the voice or being hoarse, night sweats, malaise, weakness, loss of appetite, and weight loss. If the original lung cancer has spread, a person may feel symptoms in other places in the body. Common places for lung cancer to spread include other parts of the lungs, lymph nodes, bones, brain, liver, and adrenal glands.
When a screening procedure (CT, MRI or PET scan) results in suspicion of lung cancer a biopsy must be done. One method of obtaining a biopsy is by bronchoscopy. While the patient is sedated, the doctor inserts a small tube through the mouth or nose and into the lungs. The tube has a light, a small camera and a surgical instrument on the end. This allows the doctor to see inside the lung and to remove a small tissue sample. Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, targeted treatments and immunotherapy — alone or in combination—are used to treat lung cancer.