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Lung Cancer

As with cancer of other organs, lung cancer can be of two kinds. It may be primary, arising in the lung tissue or bronchus, or secondary, where the cancer has started somewhere else and spread to the lungs.

There are two main types of primary lung cancer. One is adenocarcinoma of the lung, which arises in glands in the bronchi. This is usually slow-growing and sometimes not even malignant. The second form, bronchogenic carcinoma, or 'smoker's cancer', is extremely malignant and becoming more common. Smoking is a major cause of this form of lung cancer. Other causative factors include air pollution, especially from coal smoke; and certain occupations such as working with asbestos and mining certain metallic ores, carry a greater risk of this sort of cancer.

Symptoms

Lung cancer can show itself in several ways. Often it is not discovered until late in the course of the disease, when there is an attack of bronchitis or pneumonia which does not get better, or the spitting of blood. Sometimes the primary cancer in the lung is discovered as a result of the effects of secondary cancers elsewhere.

Treatment

If diagnosed early, the affected lobe or part of the lung may he removed surgically. This gives the best chance of recovery. Most cancers are not diagnosed until they have progressed too far for this, however. Radiotherapy or anti­cancer (cytotoxic) drugs may be used in these more advanced cases with varying degrees of success.

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