Lung cancer forms in tissues of the lung, usually in the cells lining air passages. The two main types are small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. These types are diagnosed based on how the cells look under a microscope.
Estimated new cases and deaths from lung cancer (non-small cell and small cell combined) in the United States each year:
- New cases: 213,380
- Deaths: 160,390
Early lung cancer often does not cause symptoms. But as the cancer grows, common symptoms may include:
- a cough that gets worse or does not go away
- breathing trouble, such as shortness of breath
- constant chest pain
- coughing up blood
- a hoarse voice
- frequent lung infections, such as pneumonia
- feeling very tired all the time
- weight loss with no known cause
The choice of treatment depends mainly on the type of lung cancer and its stage. People with lung cancer may have surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of treatments.
People with limited stage small cell lung cancer usually have radiation therapy and chemotherapy. For a very small lung tumor, a person may have surgery and chemotherapy. Most people with extensive stage small cell lung cancer are treated with chemotherapy only.
People with non-small cell lung cancer may have surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of treatments. The treatment choices are different for each stage. Some people with advanced cancer receive targeted therapy.