What Causes Lung Cancer?

The lungs are the organs responsible for exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood before the heart pumps it back around the body. Lung cancer is the top cause of all cancer-related deaths in the United States. Cancer that develops in the lung tissue can be aggressive in local tissues, but also spreads easily via the lymphatic or circulatory systems. Symptoms of lung cancer include cough, wheezing, chest pain, breathlessness, hoarseness, repeated respiratory infections, difficulty swallowing, weight loss, fatigue, and coughing up blood. Diagnosis of lung cancer can be made with a physical examination, blood tests, chest x-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, PET scans, bone scans, sputum cytology, bronchoscopy, needle biopsy, molecular testing, and thoracentesis. Lung cancer treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy.

Lung cancer has several causes. Learn more about them now.

Smoking

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Smoking cigarettes is the most significant risk factor and the leading cause of the development of lung cancer. Approximately twenty substances present in the smoke produced by tobacco have been identified as carcinogens or having cell mutating properties. Cigarette smoke enters an individual’s lungs and comes into contact with the cells lining the interior structures of the lung. As soon as these carcinogenic substances come in contact with the cells, molecular changes begin to take place, and tissues start to incur damage. Initially, an individual’s body may be able to successfully repair the damage that has been done to the DNA by these chemicals. However, the compounding damage and DNA alterations over time can override the ability of the body to be able to repair the damage without making mistakes and leaving mutations behind. When these mutations manipulate the cell into growing faster, dividing rapidly, and not ending its life cycle appropriately, malignancy starts to develop. The combination of the damaging effects of the chemicals in tobacco smoke on the lung tissues and the direct changes they induce in cellular DNA is what results in the development of lung cancer.

Keep reading to discover more causes and risk factors related to the development of lung cancer now.