Lung Cancer


This is an abnormal growth of lung tissue cells. It can affect one or both of your lungs. In the United States, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in men and women.

How Cancer Forms

Cancer forms because of a mutation in a cell's DNA. This is the genetic blueprint that provides instructions for how every cell grows and functions. A DNA mutation can occur naturally, or it can be caused by environmental factors. The mutation causes the cell to divide abnormally and uncontrollably. This creates more damaged cells. A mass of these abnormal cells is called a "tumor."

Causes and Risk Factors

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. You have a higher risk for lung cancer if you smoke or if you are exposed to secondhand smoke. You also have a higher risk if you have been exposed to toxins such as radon gas or asbestos fibers. And, you have a higher risk if you have a family history of lung cancer.


During the early stages of lung cancer, you may not notice any symptoms. As the cancer progresses, you may experience chronic coughing and shortness of breath. You may wheeze, and your voice may be hoarse. You may have chest pain, and you may experience pain in other parts of your body. You may lose weight unexpectedly, and you may cough up blood.


Treatment options may include surgery to remove the cancerous tissue. You may benefit from chemotherapy, radiation therapy or targeted drug therapy. Your treatment depends on the type and stage of your cancer and on other factors. Your healthcare provider can create a care plan that is right for your needs.