Lung cancer

Lung cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the lungs. Your lungs are two spongy organs in your chest that take in oxygen when you inhale and release carbon dioxide when you exhale.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, among both men and women. Lung cancer claims more lives each year than do colon, prostate, ovarian and breast cancers combined.

People who smoke have the greatest risk of lung cancer. The risk of lung cancer increases with the length of time and number of cigarettes you've smoked. If you quit smoking, even after smoking for many years, you can significantly reduce your chances of developing lung cancer.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

Lung cancer typically doesn't cause signs and symptoms in its earliest stages. Signs and symptoms of lung cancer typically occur only when the disease is advanced.

Signs and symptoms of lung cancer may include:

  • A new cough that doesn't go away
  • Changes in a chronic cough or "smoker's cough"
  • Coughing up blood, even a small amount
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Wheezing
  • Hoarseness
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Bone pain
  • Headache

When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you.

If you smoke and have been unable to quit, make an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor can recommend strategies for quitting smoking, such as counseling, medications and nicotine replacement products.

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