Lung cancer is a malignant lung tumor characterized by uncontrolled cell growth in tissues of the lung. If left untreated, this growth can spread beyond the lung by process of metastasis into nearby tissue or other parts of the body. Most cancers that start in the lung, known as primary lung cancers, are carcinomas that derive from epithelial cells. The main primary types are small-cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) and non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). The most common symptoms are coughing (including coughing up blood), weight loss, shortness of breath, and chest pains.
The vast majority (80–90%) of cases of lung cancer are due to long-term exposure to tobacco smoke. About 10–15% of cases occur in people who have never smoked. These cases are often caused by a combination of genetic factors and exposure to radon gas, asbestos, or other forms of air pollution, including second-hand smoke. Lung cancer may be seen on chest radiographs and computed tomography (CT) scans. The diagnosis is confirmed by biopsy which is usually performed by bronchoscopy or CT-guidance.
Treatment and long-term outcomes depend on the type of cancer, the stage (degree of spread), and the person's overall health, measured by performance status. Common treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. NSCLC is sometimes treated with surgery, whereas SCLC usually responds better to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Overall, 16.8% of people in the United States diagnosed with lung cancer survive five years after the diagnosis, while outcomes on average are worse in the developing world. Worldwide, lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related death in men and women, and was responsible for 1.56 million deaths annually, as of 2012.
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