Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women and the leading cause of death from cancer.1There are different types of lung cancer, such as non-small cell lung cancer, small-cell lung cancer, and lung carcinoid tumors. Knowing which type of lung cancer you have is important because the treatment options and outcomes (prognoses) vary.
Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancer. The two lung cancer types in this category are adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. About 80-85% of lung cancers are of this type.1 Lung cancer typically starts in the cells lining the bronchi and parts of the lung, such as the bronchioles or alveoli.
Risk Factors and Prevention
Smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer. About 80% of lung cancer deaths result from smoking.1 The risk for lung cancer among smokers is many times higher than for non-smokers, and the longer you smoke and the greater the number of packs you smoke daily, the higher your risk.
Not all smokers get lung cancer. Lung cancer in non-smokers can be caused by secondhand smoking. Secondhand smoking is when you breathe in the smoke of other smokers. It can increase your risk of developing lung cancer and is thought to cause more than 7,000 deaths per year.1 Exposure to radon, air pollution, workplace exposure to asbestos, diesel exhaust, or other certain chemicals can also cause lung cancer.
Lung cancers in non-smokers are often different in some ways than those in smokers. They occur in younger ages and present with certain changes in genes that are different from those in tumors from smokers. Gene changes can either be inherited (passed on from a parent), or acquired (resulting from exposure to factors in the environment, such as cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco smoke). This information is sometimes used as a guide in treating lung cancer.
Not all lung cancers can be prevented, but eating healthy foods, exercising, not smoking, and avoiding exposure to secondhand smoking and cancer-causing chemicals will help to keep you from developing the disease.
Early Detection of Lung Cancer
Patients diagnosed with lung cancer in the early stages, when the tumor is small and has not spread, have a better chance of living longer. Usually symptoms of lung cancer do not appear until the disease is already at the advanced stage.
Some lung cancers are found early by accident when patients undergo treatment and testing for other medical conditions, e.g., heart disease, pneumonia, or other lung conditions. Current and former smokers are at a higher risk for developing the disease as they get older. A test known as low-dose CAT scan or CT scan (LDCT) has been studied in people at a higher risk for lung cancer. LDCT scans can help find abnormal areas in the lungs that may be cancerous, before symptoms start.
What Testing Would my Healthcare Provider Order?
GenPath’s proprietary OnkoSightTM test analyzes 18 genes that are important in lung cancer diagnoses. By focusing in on these genes, GenPath can provide the information needed most to determine the most appropriate therapeutic choice.
- American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org. Accessed May 17, 2019.