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Lung cancer is a disease that is caused by an abnormality in the growth of lung cells. In normal conditions, the body functions in such a way that it maintains a system which ensures that normal cells are created when they are needed. A disruption of this system can lead cells to experience uncontrolled division and proliferation leading to the formation of a mass known as a tumour. While it is easy to surgically remove benign tumours since they do not spread to other body parts, it is difficult to remove malignant tumours which are known to rapidly spread to other body parts. It is the malignant tumours that are known as cancer. The process of the spread of lung cancer is known as metastasis. Lung cancer is very difficult to treat and is very life-threatening because of its ability to metastasize in its early period of formation (Vaporciyan et al. 1228). Lung cancer can metastasize to any organ of the body, but the most common organs include liver, brain, adrenal glands, and the bone. Although lung cancer can develop in any part of the lung, nearly 90 to 95 per cent of lung cancers are believed to develop from the epithelial cells. Lung cancers can also develop from the pleura or, in rare cases, from the supporting tissues within the lung such as the blood vessels.
The greatest cause of lung cancer is cigarette smoking. Although pipe and cigar smoking can also cause cancer, the risk is not very high like the one of cigarette smoking. There are over 4,000 chemical compounds in tobacco smoke; most of which have been shown to be carcinogenic. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and nitrosamines are the two primary chemicals in tobacco which are associated with causation of cancer. Apart from cigarette smoking, other causes of cancer include exposure to asbestos fibre, radon gas, familial predisposition, lung diseases, air pollution, and previous history of the condition. Lung cancer, especially during its early stages, does not exhibit any signs and symptoms. In up to 25% of cases, the condition is discovered during a routine x-ray check or CT scan (Vaporciyan et al. 1229).
As the condition progresses, various signs and symptoms can be observed, including shortness of breath, cough, chest pain, wheezing, blurred vision, headaches, hoarseness, weakness, seizures, and even loss of sensation in specific body parts. An individual may also experience weight loss, fatigue, and depression. Lung cancer is diagnosed through carrying out historical and physical examination, chest x-ray, and CT scan. Other methods include magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography, bronchoscopy, and thoracentesis. Treatment of lung cancer mainly involves surgical removal of the malignant tumour, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy (Minna & Schiller 554). Complication of cancer includes shortness of breath due to blockage of major airways, coughing up blood, pain, fluid in the chest, weight loss, effect on other body parts, such as the liver, brain, bones, and adrenal glands, and even death. The most important measure in the prevention of lung cancer is cessation of smoking or elimination of exposure to tobacco smoke.