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Unusual Cancers of Childhood (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI] - Unusual Cancers of the Chest

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See the PDQ summary Breast Cancer Treatment for more information on the treatment of adolescents and young adults with breast cancer.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer begins in the tissue of the lung. The lungs are a pair of cone-shaped breathing organs in the chest. The lungs bring oxygen into the body as you breathe in. They release carbon dioxide, a waste product of the body's cells, as you breathe out. Each lung has sections called lobes. The left lung has two lobes. The right lung is slightly larger and has three lobes. Two tubes called bronchi lead from the trachea (windpipe) to the right and left lungs. Tiny air sacs called alveoli and small tubes called bronchioles make up the inside of the lungs.

In children, most lung tumors are malignant (cancer).

Symptoms and Diagnostic Tests

Lung cancer may cause any of the following signs and symptoms. Check with your child's doctor if you see any of the following problems in your child:

  • Coughing.
  • Streaks of blood in sputum (mucus coughed up from the lungs).
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Chest discomfort.
  • Fever.
  • Weight loss for no known reason.

Tests to diagnose lung cancer may include the following:

  • Physical exam and history.
  • X-ray of the chest.
  • CT scan.

See the General Information section for a description of these tests and procedures.

Treatment

Treatment for lung cancer in children is surgery to remove the tumor. More treatment may be given after surgery. It depends on the type of tumor and whether the tumor has spread.

Bronchial Tumors

Bronchial tumors begin in the cells that line the surface of the lung. Most bronchial tumors in children are benign, slow-growing tumors in the trachea or large bronchi, which are the large airways of the lung. Sometimes, a slow-growing bronchial tumor becomes cancer that may spread to other parts of the body.

cdr0000466533.jpg
Anatomy of the respiratory system, showing the trachea and both lungs and their lobes and airways. Lymph nodes and the diaphragm are also shown. Oxygen is inhaled into the lungs and passes through the thin membranes of the alveoli and into the bloodstream (see inset).

Symptoms and Diagnostic and Staging Tests

Bronchial tumors may cause any of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Coughing.
  • Wheezing.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Spitting up blood from the airways or lung.
  • Frequent infections in the lung, such as pneumonia.

Other conditions that are not bronchial tumors may cause these same symptoms. For example, symptoms of bronchial tumors are a lot like the symptoms of asthma, and that can make it hard to diagnose the tumor.

Tests to diagnose and stage bronchial tumors may include the following:

  • Physical exam and history.
  • X-ray of the chest.
  • CT scan.

See the General Information section for a description of these tests and procedures.

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WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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