Lung Cancer Basics - What You Need to Know | Health 101

Health 101

Lung Cancer 101: What You Need to Know

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer for both men and women (not counting skin cancer). The American Cancer Society says that there will be more than 200,000 new cases in the US in 2019 alone1.  

The sooner lung cancer is found, the better. The good news is that tests can help with finding lung cancer early. People who are diagnosed when the cancer is only in the lungs have a 56% survival rate at five years. However, only 16% of cases are found early enough so get tested at the earliest sign of symptoms2.


Causes and Symptoms of Lung Cancer

Knowing the causes and signs of lung cancer is important. Being aware of these warnings can give you a better chance of getting rid of the cancer.


Common causes of lung cancer include smoking, breathing in second-hand smoke, asbestos and family genetics.


Symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • Coughing, especially if it continues over time or becomes worse
  • Pain in the chest, shoulder or back not caused by pain from coughing
  • Trouble breathing

If you have any of these risk factors and are showing signs of lung cancer, it’s important to speak with your doctor as soon as possible.


Smoking Related Lung Cancer

Even with all of the information on the dangers of smoking, cigarette smoking is still the number one cause of lung cancer. Cigarette smoking causes about 80% to 90% of lung cancer deaths3. People who smoke cigarettes are 15 to 30 times more likely to get lung cancer or die from lung cancer than people who do not smoke4.


Only a few cigarettes a day can increase your chances of getting lung cancer. Time also plays a factor. The longer you smoke, the higher your chances are of getting lung cancer.


Smokers also need to think about the risks for family and friends. You may not realize that second-hand smoke can also cause lung cancer. When a person breathes in second-hand smoke, it’s like he or she is smoking. More than 7,000 people who never smoked die from lung cancer due to second-hand smoke every year5.



Treatment options for lung cancer have improved over the years. The right treatment depends on the type of cancer. Options include surgery to remove the cancer, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. Doctors may also choose to combine lung cancer treatment options to benefit the patient.



There are many resources for patients and loved ones. The LUNGevity Lung Cancer Helpline has a lot of information and can connect patients with support groups and doctors. Call 844-360-LUNG (5864). Patients should also talk to their doctor about lung cancer support groups in their area. It’s also important to know what to ask your doctor to understand the best treatment options for you.




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