General Information About Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

KEY POINTS

  • Non-small cell lung cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the lung.
  • There are several types of non-small cell lung cancer.
  • Smoking is the major risk factor for non-small cell lung cancer.
  • Signs of non-small cell lung cancer include a cough that doesn’t go away and shortness of breath.
  • Tests that examine the lungs are used to detect (find), diagnose, and stage non-small cell lung cancer.
  • Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.
  • For most patients with non-small cell lung cancer, current treatments do not cure the cancer.

Non-small cell lung cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the lung.

The lungs are a pair of cone-shaped breathing organs in the chest. The lungs bring oxygen into the body as you breathe in. They release carbon dioxide, a waste product of the body’s cells, as you breathe out. Each lung has sections called lobes. The left lung has two lobes. The right lung is slightly larger and has three lobes. Two tubes called bronchi lead from the trachea (windpipe) to the right and left lungs. The bronchi are sometimes also involved in lung cancer. Tiny air sacs called alveoli and small tubes called bronchioles make up the inside of the lungs.

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