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Important Facts

About Lung Cancer

Not only is lung cancer the second most common type of cancer for both men and women, it also causes the most cancer-related deaths in the U.S. The American Cancer society reports that more than 235,000 people were diagnosed with lung cancer in 2021, a year in which the disease claimed more than 133,000 lives. These stats prove just how critical it is for patients to get access to the best care possible, and residents of New Jersey, Maryland and Connecticut can get just that at Regional Cancer Care Associates (RCCA).

Types of Lung Cancer

Lung cancer starts when abnormal cells develop in the lung(s) and start to grow. Eventually, they may form into a malignant, or cancerous, tumor. Though most lung cancers start this way, they don’t all share the same characteristics. There are three distinct types of lung cancer:

  • Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) – NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer in American adults, accounting for about 85% of all cases. Subtypes include adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and large-cell carcinoma.
  • Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) – The second most common type of lung cancer is SCLC. It tends to grow quickly, but usually responds well to chemotherapy treatments.
  • Lung carcinoid tumor – A rare lung tumor, lung carcinoid tumors account for less than 5% of all lung cancer cases. It typically grows slower than other types and hardly ever spreads, or metastasizes, to other areas of the body.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms?

Sometimes, even the most seemingly trivial symptoms, such as a cough that doesn’t go away or shoulder pain, could be indicative of lung cancer. Some patients report feeling very ill, while others hardly experience anything unusual at all. Even though every case is different, some of the most common signs of lung cancer include:

  • A cough that lasts for several weeks at a time
  • Chest, shoulder or back pain
  • Voice hoarseness
  • Feelings of breathlessness
  • Harsh breathing sounds
  • Recurring bronchitis or pneumonia
  • Coughing up blood
  • Blood in the phlegm or mucus

Once the cancer has progressed and spread to other parts of the body, patients may also experience a loss of appetite, unintended weight loss, blood clots, unusual bleeding, neck or facial swelling, memory loss, headaches, bone or joint pain, fatigue and/or an unsteady walk.

Some patients tend to write off their symptoms or attribute them to other medical conditions, but the earlier you talk to your doctor about any new symptoms, the better. Lung cancer is usually diagnosed after conducting a CT or PET scan in conjunction with other testing.

Risk Factors for Lung Cancer

Smoking tobacco is, by far, the leading cause of lung cancer. In fact, about 87% of all lung cancer cases in the U.S. can be attributed to smoking. However, even if you quit smoking or have never smoked at all, you can still develop lung cancer.

Aside from smoking, other risk factors include:

  • Secondhand smoke exposure
  • Scarring on the lungs caused by tuberculosis
  • Family history of lung cancer
  • Some genetic mutations
  • Exposure to asbestos, radon, radiation, arsenic, uranium, beryllium, vinyl chloride, nickel chromates, coal products, mustard gas, chloromethyl ethers, gasoline and/or diesel exhaust
Doctor explaining scan to patient

Treatment Options for Lung Cancer Patients

Depending on the type of lung cancer you have and what stage it has progressed to, the treatment options will vary. From aggressive chemotherapy and radiation regimens to surgery and immunotherapy, two patients’ lung cancer journeys can look very different from each other. Whatever your doctor recommends, know that you’re getting access to state-of-the-art care from RCCA. Treatment options for lung cancer may involve cutting-edge targeted therapies and immunotherapies. Patients may also be eligible to enroll in clinical trials, where they’ll have early access to the latest innovations. Comprehensive palliative care and integrative care are also made available to RCCA’s lung cancer patients to help make sure you’re comfortable and supported at all times. As you overcome each new challenge, you can trust that you’ll be in good hands.

Put Your Trust in RCCA

Get the emotional, mental, physical and financial support you and your family need at Regional Cancer Care Associates. Our patient-centered approach helps our team tend to every patient’s unique needs. The oncology team, nurses and support staff bring decades of experience to help patients fight lung cancer.

Whether your journey is just beginning or you’re ready to explore new options, contact RCCA today. You can reach us at 844-346-7222, or schedule a consultation at the RCCA location nearest your town to get seen as soon as possible.


Julianne W. Childs, DO

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