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Understanding Lung Cancer
MEDICAL ANIMATION TRANSCRIPT: You or someone you care about may have been diagnosed with lung cancer. This video will help you understand more about lung cancer and how it affects your body. Your lungs are a pair of organs inside your chest that allow you to breathe. You inhale oxygen, which all cells need. Then you exhale a waste gas called carbon dioxide. This gas exchange happens inside tiny air sacs in your lungs. Lung cancer is a disease in which normal lung cells change into harmful abnormal cells called cancer cells. Cancer cells multiply to form clusters called tumors. These tumors grow and destroy healthy lung tissue. Lung cancer may spread to other parts of your body through blood or lymph fluid-- a natural substance that helps gather unwanted waste material from your body. There are two main types of lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. They are named for the kinds of cells in the cancer, and how they look under a microscope. Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer is the most aggressive type of lung cancer. It grows and spreads more quickly. The most important risk factor for lung cancer is smoking. Other risk factors include breathing secondhand smoke, exposure to radon, having a family history of lung cancer, HIV infection, exposure to harmful chemicals, such as asbestos, and air pollution. Lung cancer may have no symptoms in its early stages. When symptoms do appear, they may include chronic cough, chest pain, trouble breathing, coughing up blood, hoarseness, loss of appetite, trouble swallowing, weight loss, tiredness, and facial or neck swelling. If you have lung cancer, your doctor will need to determine the stage or progression of the disease to help plan your treatment. Non-small cell lung cancer has many stages. In the occult stage, cancer cells are found only in lung fluids. In Stage 0, abnormal or cancer cells are found in the lining of the airways. By Stage 1, a small tumor is found. Then in Stage 2, the cancer has grown or spread to nearby lymph nodes or non-lung tissues. In Stage 3A, the tumor has grown to any size. In addition, cancer is found in lymph nodes on the same side of the chest or in nearby organs. Stage 3B is similar to 3A. But in 3B, cancer is found in lymph nodes on the opposite side of the chest. Cancer may also be found in lymph nodes above the collarbone. In Stage 4, tumors might be found in both lungs. Additionally, cancer may have spread to distant organs. There are fewer stages for small cell lung cancer. In its limited stage, cancer is found in one side of the chest only. In the extensive stage, cancer has spread to the other side of the chest or to distant organs. As you deal with a diagnosis of lung cancer, continue to talk to your doctor and your cancer care team.