Lung Cancer Home > What Is Lung Cancer?

What Causes Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer research scientists have discovered several causes; the most common involve the use of tobacco.
These causes of lung cancer may include:
  • Cigarettes
  • Cigars and pipes
  • Environmental tobacco smoke
  • Asbestos
  • Radon
  • Lung diseases
  • Pollution
  • Personal history of lung cancer.

What Are the Symptoms?

Common lung cancer symptoms typically include:
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Pain
  • Fever
  • Weight loss.
However, one in four people diagnosed with the disease have no symptoms.

How Is It Diagnosed?

In order to make a lung cancer diagnosis, the doctor will ask a number of questions and perform a physical exam looking for signs or symptoms. He or she may also recommend specific tests or procedures.
Some of these include:
  • Chest x-ray
  • Sputum cytology
  • Lung biopsy.

Stages of Lung Cancer

Once lung cancer is diagnosed, your healthcare provider will want to determine the stage (or extent) of the disease. Lung cancer staging is conducted to find out whether the disease has spread and, if so, to what parts of the body. Knowing the stage helps the doctor plan treatment.
Each type of lung cancer has different staging criteria.
Specific non-small cell lung cancer stages include:
  • Occult
  • Stage 0 (carcinoma in situ)
  • Stage I
  • Stage II
  • Stage III
  • Stage IV
  • Recurrent.
Specific small cell lung cancer stages include:
  • Limited stage
  • Extensive stage
  • Recurrent.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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