What is lung cancer?
Lung cancer: what is it?
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What is lung cancer?

Lung cancer usually begins to form in the mid-fifties or sixties. Smoking is responsible for 80% to 90% of the cases of lung cancer.

This cancer is particularly threatening because it can easily spread to the rest of the body than other types of cancer. Indeed, all the blood passes through the lungs to be oxygenated, and lungs are in close contact with several blood and lymph vessels. Lung cancer is particularly alarming that it is often discovered late. It is also the leading cause of cancer death in Canada, both in men than in women.

The Canadian Cancer Society predicts that there will be 24,100 new cases of lung cancer in 2010 in the country: 12,900 men and 11,200 femmes43.

This cancer can however be very effectively prevented by quitting smoking or smoking less.



Exposure to secondhand smoke.

Exposure to carcinogens particles present in the air, such as those arising from asbestos, arsenic, radon or air pollutants (carbon monoxide, ozone, etc.).

Some facts about smoking and secondhand smoke

In the mid 1960s that the causal link between smoking and lung cancer was established with certainty.

In Canada, tobacco control efforts have paid off: in 1965, half of Canadians aged 15 and over were smokers, compared to 25% in 1999 and 18% in 20081.42.

Through provincial legislation, Canadians are much less exposed to secondhand smoke in their workplace and in public places.

Smoking is two times more common in Aboriginal populations than in the general Canadian population.

Thanks to the reduction of tobacco use, lung cancer has been declining since the mid-1980s in men. However, in women, this cancer has increased steadily since 1980 and is only now beginning to stabilize.


There are 2 types of lung cancer. They grow and propagate differently in the body.

Lung cancer small cell. This is the most dangerous form of lung cancer. Approximately 20% of cases of lung cancers in this form. At diagnosis, the risk that the cancer has already dispersed elsewhere in the body is high. It grows quickly and it is often impossible to treat through surgery. It rather uses the chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Lung disease non-small cell. This form of lung cancer, accounting for about 80% of cases, is detected and can be treated more easily than the small cell carcinoma. It develops more slowly. This class includes 3 subgroups: adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and large undifferentiated carcinoma cells. There are other forms, much rarer.


Lung cancer is among the deadliest, with pancreatic cancer. The survival rate of people with this cancer, 5 years after diagnosis is 17% for women and 14% men. Even if the person responds well to treatment initially, relapses are common in the years or months that follow.

Possible Complications

Lung cancer often obstructs the bronchi, which creates a breeding ground for respiratory tract infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

As mentioned previously, cancer can spread to other parts of the body to form metastatic. Generally, metastases will lodge in other parts of the lungs, and into the bone, brain or liver. They are more common in cases of lung cancer small cell.

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