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What Is Lung Cancer Anyway?

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I knew that cancer was bad, and that it was made up of tumors and cancerous cells. Beyond this I didn’t know very much. I immediately started looking into how it was treated. I realized that in order to understand the treatment options, I needed to know more about what lung cancer is.

Most lung cancer starts in the lining of the bronchi, although it can also start in other areas of the lung. First, there are areas of precancerous changes in the lung. These eventually develop into tumors. The tumors produce signals that cause new blood vessels to grow that in turn feed the cancerous cells. Once this lung cancer occurs the cells can break away and spread to other parts of the body. The cancerous cells are actual lung cells that no longer behave in a normal way. They divide rapidly forming tumors that clog up the lung and make it stop functioning in a normal fashion. One of the reasons why it is hard to fight lung cancer is because the cancerous cells are actual lung cells, so the bodies immune system does not recognized them as foreign entities and try to destroy them.


Having a basic understanding of what lung cancer is helps us understand how it is treated. Lung cancer is made up of the ‘rapidly dividing’ cancerous cells, tumors, and blood vessels that feed the tumors. The main treatments for lung cancer target these different areas. Surgery is used to remove tumors. Radiation Therapy kills tumors. General Chemotherapy drugs kill rapidly dividing cells (including the cancer cells). Targeted Chemotherapy drugs more specifically target lung cancer cells.


These drugs kill rapidly dividing cells. They can’t differentiate between cancer cells and other rapidly dividing cells in the body (blood cells, cells in the mouth, stomach and bowels, and hair follicles) so they attack them all. This causes many of the adverse side effects. Many of these chemo drugs fall into two main categories. The first are platinum based drugs and the second are plant based.

1. Platinum based drugs
This class of chemo drugs normally produce the highest number of anticancer responses, but

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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