Fact Sheet

What is Cancer?

When abnormal cells grow out-of-control they form tumors that are either benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).  All cancers are formed this way including lung cancer, which is formed in either or both lungs.

Normal cells follow a rythemic process that produces new cells while the old cells die out.  Cells become abnormal when this process  is interrupted. As the body produces new cells, the old ones do not die out fast enough causing damaged DNA cells in the form of tumors, except for leukemia which is formed in the blood. 

Types of lung Cancer

  • small cell lung cancer (SCLC)
  • non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)

85% -90% of lung cancer is NSCLC and 10%-15%  of lung cancer is SCLC with 5% being a mix of both SCLC and NSCLC which is uncommon.

Lung cancer (both small cell and non-small cell) is the second most common cancer in both men (after prostate cancer) and women (after breast cancer). It accounts for about 15% of all new cancers.

The American Cancer Society’s most recent estimates for lung cancer in the United States are for 2010:

  • About 222,520 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed (116,750 among men and 105,770 among women).
  • There will be an estimated 157,300 deaths from lung cancer (86,220 among men and 71,080 among women), accounting for about 28% of all cancer deaths.

Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women. More people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.

 

Source: American Cancer Society