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What Is Lung Cancer?

Although lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. in both men and women, both the occurrence of lung cancer and the deaths related to it can be reduced. More than four out of every five cases of lung cancer are associated with cigarette smoking. The cause-and-effect relationship has been extensively documented. During the 1920s, large numbers of men began to smoke cigarettes, presumably in response to increased advertising. Twenty years later, the frequency of lung cancer in men climbed sharply. In the 1940s, significantly more women became smokers. Twenty years later, there was a similar dramatic increase in lung cancer among women.

Lung tumors almost always start in the spongy, pinkish gray walls of the bronchi -- the tubular, branching airways of the lungs. More than 20 types of malignant tumors that originate in the lung itself -- primary lung cancer -- have been identified. The major types are small-cell lung cancer and non-small-cell lung cancer. The more common non-small variety is primarily divided into squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large-cell carcinoma.

Recommended Related to Lung Cancer

Understanding Lung Cancer -- Prevention

Don't smoke. Breaking the tobacco habit may be difficult, but it can be done. While preparing to quit, cut back on the number of cigarettes smoked daily. Many people report that stopping cigarette smoking "cold turkey" is more effective than gradually tapering off. Joining a support group may help you maintain the resolve to quit. If you live or work with smokers, encourage them to quit and ask them not to smoke around you. If there is potential exposure to cancer-causing chemicals at work, take...

Read the Understanding Lung Cancer -- Prevention article > >

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on May 23, 2014

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