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Lung Cancer


Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in women and men in North America. Unfortunately due to the fact that lung tissue contains a lot of blood vessels, any cancer in it will metastasize very early. This is why at the time of diagnosis of lung cancer 70% of patients have already metastases( 31% regional and 39% distant metastases ) (Ref. 1 and 2).

Lung cancer leads to early metastases

Lung cancer leads to early metastases

Five years later only 14% of the patients who initially had regional metastases will still be alive and only 2% of the patients who initially had distant metastases will still be  alive. The reason is that in the initial stages this cancer does not produce any lung cancer symptoms. Because of this lung cancer is diagnosed too late, usually at the point when a chronic cough develops, which does not respond to any medication.

Another common presentation is that blood is suddenly coughed up (=hemoptysis) or unexplained weight loss sets in. At this point there is a bronchial cancer present that has invaded locally or has already sent metastases to the brain, the adrenal glands, the liver, bone or skin, in other words the patient is entering into a terminal cancer.


1. Cancer: Principles &Practice of Oncology, 4th edition, volume 1. Edited by V.T. De     Vita,Jr.,et. al J.B. LippincottCo.,Philadelphia, 1993.Chapter on lung cancer.

2. Cancer: Principles&Practice of Oncology. 5th edition, volume 1. Edited by Vincent T.     DeVita, Jr. et al. Lippincott-Raven Publ., Philadelphia,PA, 1997. Chapter on lung cancer.

3. The Merck Manual, 7th edition, by M. H. Beers et al., Whitehouse Station, N.J., 1999.     Chapter 81: Tumors of the lung.

4. GW Krystal et al. Clin Cancer Res 2000 Aug;6(8):3319-3326.

5. BJ Druker et al. N Engl J Med 2001 Apr 5;344(14):1031-1037.

6. MJ Mauro et al. Curr Oncol Rep 2001 May;3(3):223-227.

7. Conn’s Current Therapy 2004, 56th ed., Copyright © 2004 Elsevier

8. Ferri: Ferri’s Clinical Advisor: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment, 2004 ed., Copyright © 2004 Mosby, Inc

Last modified: August 27, 2014

This outline is only a teaching aid to patients and should stimulate you to ask the right questions when seeing your doctor. However, the responsibility of treatment stays in the hands of your doctor and you.