Lung Cancer

Published by Ken Dunn
Dunway Enterprises

Lung Cancer - Doc

Understanding Cancer

http://lung-cancer.dunway.com

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All types of cancer develop in our cells, the body's basic unit of life.
To understand cancer, it is helpful to know how normal cells become cancerous.

The body is made up of many types of cells. Normally, cells grow, divide, and produce more cells as needed to keep the body healthy and functioning properly.

Sometimes, however, the process goes astray - cells keep dividing when new cells are not needed. The mass of extra cells forms a growth or tumor.

Tumors can be benign or malignant.

Benign tumors are not cancer.

They often can be removed and, in most cases, they do not come back. Cells in benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body. Most important, benign tumors are rarely a threat to life.

Malignant tumors are cancer.

Cells in malignant tumors are abnormal and divide without control or order. These cancer cells can invade and destroy the tissue around them.

Cancer cells can also break away from a malignant tumor and enter the bloodstream or lymphatic system (the tissues and organs that produce, store, and carry white blood cells that fight infection and other diseases).

This process, called metastasis, is how cancer spreads from the original (primary) tumor to form new (secondary) tumors in other parts of the body.

Understanding Lung Cancer

Cancers that begin in the lungs are divided into two major types, non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer, depending on how the cells look under a microscope. Each type of lung cancer grows and spreads in different ways and is treated differently.

Nonsmall cell lung cancer is more common than small cell lung cancer, and it generally grows and spreads more slowly. There are three main types of non-small cell lung cancer.

They are named for the type of cells in which the cancer develops: squamous cell carcinoma (also called epidermoid carcinoma), adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.

Small cell lung cancer, sometimes called oat cell cancer, is less common than non-small cell lung cancer. This type of lung cancer grows more quickly and is more likely to spread to other organs in the body.

Explanatory Terms

tumor (TOO-mer): An abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Tumors may be benign (not cancerous), or malignant (cancerous). Also called neoplasm.

metastasis (meh-TAS-ta-sis): The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another. A tumor formed by cells that have spread is called a "metastatic tumor" or a "metastasis." The metastatic tumor contains cells that are like those in the original (primary) tumor. The plural form of metastasis is metastases (meh-TAS-ta-seez).

lymphatic system (lim-FAT-ik SIS-tem): The tissues and organs that produce, store, and carry white blood cells that fight infections and other diseases. This system includes the bone marrow, spleen, thymus, lymph nodes, and lymphatic vessels (a network of thin tubes that carry lymph and white blood cells). Lymphatic vessels branch, like blood vessels, into all the tissues of the body.

malignant (ma-LIG-nant): Cancerous. Malignant tumors can invade and destroy nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body

benign (beh-NINE): Not cancerous. Benign tumors do not spread to tissues around them or to other parts of the body.

tissue (TISH-oo): A group or layer of cells that work together to perform a specific function.

Non-small cell lung cancer: A group of lung cancers that includes squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma

small cell lung cancer: A type of lung cancer in which the cells appear small and round when viewed under the microscope. Also called oat cell cancer.

squamous cell carcinoma (SKWAY-mus sel kar-sin-O-ma): Cancer that begins in squamous cells, which are thin, flat cells that look like fish scales. Squamous cells are found in the tissue that forms the surface of the skin, the lining of the hollow organs of the body, and the passages of the respiratory and digestive tracts. Also called epidermoid carcinoma.

epidermoid carcinoma (EH-pih-DUR-moyd KAHR-sih-NOH-muh): Cancer that begins in squamous cells, which are thin, flat cells that look like fish scales. Squamous cells are found in the tissue that forms the surface of the skin, the lining of the hollow organs of the body, and the lining of the respiratory and digestive tracts. Also called squamous cell carcinoma.

adenocarcinoma (AD-in-o-kar-sin-O-ma): Cancer that begins in cells that line certain internal organs and that have glandular (secretory) properties.

large cell carcinoma (kar-sin-O-ma): Lung cancer in which the cells are large and look abnormal when viewed under a microscope.

oat cell cancer: A type of lung cancer in which the cells look like oats when viewed under a microscope. Also called small cell lung cancer.

Lungs | Understanding Cancer | Who's At Risk | Symptoms | Diagnosing | Staging | Treatment
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