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Important Lung Cancer Facts that You Need to Know

Medically reviewed by Jezreel Esguerra, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Dec 10, 2022

Important Lung Cancer Facts that You Need to Know

Based on statistics from the Global Cancer Observatory (GLOBOCAN), lung cancer is second among the most common types of cancer globally. And one of the must-know lung cancer facts is that it has the highest mortality rate compared to other types of cancer worldwide. Additionally, it ranked sixth among the leading causes of death worldwide. 

But what is lung cancer? Is smoking or inhaling secondhand smoke the only cause of this disease? What makes you at risk of developing this cancer? Let’s find out more lung cancer facts to better understand what causes it, and how we can prevent it.

Lung Cancer Facts

Before we answer the question “What is lung cancer?”, we first need to understand what cancer is. 

Cancer refers to a group of diseases that happens when the cells in the body start replicating abnormally and uncontrollably. This can happen to any type of cell in the body. And it can also spread to other organs if left untreated.

These abnormal cells don’t function like healthy cells, and this causes any affected organs to have difficulty in performing their regular functions. Eventually, this causes the affected organs to fail, resulting in death.

In the case of lung cancer, the abnormal cells start replicating in a person’s lungs, causing breathing problems. Cancer cells can then eventually spread throughout the entire body and cause other complications.

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of lung cancer vary from case to case. Sometimes, the symptoms appear connected with a person’s breathing. But there are cases where it affects other parts of the body, especially if the cancer has already spread. Written below are the most common symptoms of lung cancer:

  • Persistent cough that does not seem to go away
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Sudden, unexplained weight loss
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Chest pain
  • These symptoms can also manifest in other lung diseases. So if you experience any of these symptoms, you should visit your doctor in order to get a clear diagnosis, and to determine what the problem might be.

    Causes and Risk Factors

    Have you ever asked yourself, “What is lung cancer’s number one cause?” You might be surprised that you already know the answer.

    By far, one of the most well known lung cancer facts is that the number one culprit is smoking. Smoking not only affects the lungs of the person smoking the cigarette, it also affects the lungs of people who inhale secondhand smoke. In fact, prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke has been recognized as a definite cause of lung cancer. It’s clear that smokers are not only putting themselves at risk, but the people around them as well.

    That’s just one of the many factors that increases our likelihood to develop lung cancer. There are many others aside from smoking.

    Here are some other potential causes of lung cancer:

    • Constant exposure to air pollution such as smoke from factories, cars, etc
    • Exposure to carcinogenic substances such as arsenic, chromium, and nickel
    • Having a family history of lung cancer

    In some cases, otherwise healthy people are diagnosed with lung cancer. However, the possibility of this is extremely low.

    Diagnosis and Treatment

    There are various invasive and non-invasive procedures in order to test for the presence of lung cancer. Here are some of the tests for it:

    • X-rays or CT scans can reveal any potential abnormalities or tumors in a person’s lungs. 
    • In some cases, a person’s sputum or mucus can be tested to see if there are any cancer cells in it.
    • Biopsy or a tissue sample of the cells in your lungs might be required for testing.

    The doctor can try the following:

    1. Insert a tube down your throat into your lungs to check for cancer cells, then take a sample of tissue from your lymph nodes, or
    2. Use a needle to directly get a tissue sample from your lungs.

    If the test results show that there are cancer cells, then your doctor will evaluate how widespread the cancer is. This means you will be subjected to further testing and procedures to check the spread of the cancer to other parts of your body. 

    In terms of treatment,  there are a number of options available for treating lung cancer. However, it depends on the severity of the cancer, as well as the patient’s choice.

    Common Forms of Treatment

    Here are the most common ways of treatment for lung cancer:

    • Chemotherapy – drugs are used in order to kill cancer cells. This is mostly used in conjunction with other types of treatment.
    • Radiation therapythis uses targeted radiation in order to kill cancer cells. It’s usually used in conjunction with chemotherapy.
    • Surgery – there are situations where your doctor needs to take out a part of your affected lung in order to remove the cancer entirely. This is also used in conjunction with chemotherapy to help kill any remaining cancer cells.
    • Radiosurgery – much like radiation therapy, radiosurgery uses radiation to target specific areas of the body. The main difference is that radiosurgery is much more targeted, and ideal for people with small cancers.
    • Targeted drug therapy this uses drugs that are designed to target specific cancer cells in the body. However, these have very limited uses, and are used for more severe cases.
    • Immunotherapy – cancer cells usually create proteins that prevent the body’s immune system from targeting them. Under immunotherapy, drugs are used to interfere with this process and allow the immune system to directly attack the cancer cells.
    • Palliative care – while not a cure, this can greatly improve the quality of life of a cancer patient. This helps them cope better with the treatments, and helps manage any symptoms of cancer as well as side effects of the treatment.


    Just like other cancer, there is no confirmed way of completely avoiding the risk of lung cancer. However, there are a number of things that a person can do in order to significantly lower the risk of developing lung cancer.

    Here are some tips to prevent lung cancer:

    • If you are a smoker, stop smoking immediately. The earlier you quit smoking, the lower your chances are of acquiring lung cancer. You are also lowering the risk of cancer for other people around you.
    • As much as possible, try to avoid being around smokers. If you can, wear an N95 rated mask when you go out, so that it can filter out any pollutants in the air.
    • Avoid cooking with coal to prevent inhalation of carcinogens.
    • Radon levels in your house can potentially cause lung cancer, so it would be a good idea to test for radon to ensure that the levels are within the normal range.
    • If your work exposes you to any harmful or carcinogenic substances, be sure to wear the proper safety equipment and follow proper safety protocol.
    • Exercise daily and eat a healthy, balanced diet.
    • These steps not only help lower your risk of lung cancer but other types of cancer as well.

      Key Takeaways

      Because of the numerous advancements that medical science has made when it comes to cancer research, the mortality rate for people diagnosed with cancer has significantly decreased.

      Despite this, the number of people who are being diagnosed with cancer, especially lung cancer, has gone up. 

      However, by knowing lung cancer facts and making informed health decisions as well as significant changes to our lifestyle, we can lower our chances of developing not just lung cancer, but numerous other diseases as well.

      Learn more about Lung Cancer here


      Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

      Medically reviewed by

      Jezreel Esguerra, MD

      General Practitioner

      Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Dec 10, 2022

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