Home > Health A – Z > Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer

Cancer that forms in tissues of the lung, usually in the cells lining air passages. The two main types are small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. These types are diagnosed based on how the cells look under a microscope.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Lung Cancer

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

A group of lung cancers that are named for the kinds of cells found in the cancer and how the cells look under a microscope. The three main types of non-small cell lung cancer are squamous cell carcinoma, large cell carcinoma, and adenocarcinoma. Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common kind of lung cancer... Read more about Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Small Cell Lung Cancer

An aggressive (fast-growing) cancer that forms in tissues of the lung and can spread to other parts of the body. The cancer cells look small and oval-shaped when looked at under a microscope... Read more about Small Cell Lung Cancer

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Venous Thromboembolism: Reducing the Risk of Venous Thromboembolism (Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism) in Patients Admitted to Hospital

Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a term used to include the formation of a blood clot (a thrombus) in a vein which may dislodge from its site of origin to travel in the blood, a phenomenon called embolism. A thrombus most commonly occurs in the deep veins of the legs; this is called deep vein thrombosis. A dislodged thrombus that travels to the lungs is known as a pulmonary embolism.

The use of sealants after lung cancer resection reduce postoperative air leaks and, in many cases, the length of hospitalization

Air leak (air coming out of the remaining lung tissue) after lung removal for lung cancer is a common postoperative complication that prolongs hospital stay. Surgical sealants (glue), synthetic or made from blood products, have been developed to prevent or to reduce the incidence of air leaks. They are applied during the operation over the lung surfaces that show air leaks. This review of randomized trials found that the use of surgical sealants seems to reduce postoperative air leaks and length of hospitalization. Nevertheless, more and larger randomized trials are needed to clearly determine the effects of surgical sealants, especially on length of hospitalization.

Not enough evidence to give a second round of chemotherapy to patients with lung cancer in a poor state

Patients with lung cancer and a good physical condition who have not been cured by a first round of chemotherapy often receive a second round of chemotherapy (second‐line). A second round of chemotherapy may not increase the survival chances of these patients and may make them feel worse because of bad side effects. This review has found only one study that compared the effects of a second round of chemotherapy with treatment showing no benefits for the patients, apart from keeping them comfortable. This study does not provide enough evidence to judge whether such treatment causes more benefits than harms and further larger studies are needed before firm conclusions can be drawn.

See all (1012)

Summaries for consumers

The use of sealants after lung cancer resection reduce postoperative air leaks and, in many cases, the length of hospitalization

Air leak (air coming out of the remaining lung tissue) after lung removal for lung cancer is a common postoperative complication that prolongs hospital stay. Surgical sealants (glue), synthetic or made from blood products, have been developed to prevent or to reduce the incidence of air leaks. They are applied during the operation over the lung surfaces that show air leaks. This review of randomized trials found that the use of surgical sealants seems to reduce postoperative air leaks and length of hospitalization. Nevertheless, more and larger randomized trials are needed to clearly determine the effects of surgical sealants, especially on length of hospitalization.

Not enough evidence to give a second round of chemotherapy to patients with lung cancer in a poor state

Patients with lung cancer and a good physical condition who have not been cured by a first round of chemotherapy often receive a second round of chemotherapy (second‐line). A second round of chemotherapy may not increase the survival chances of these patients and may make them feel worse because of bad side effects. This review has found only one study that compared the effects of a second round of chemotherapy with treatment showing no benefits for the patients, apart from keeping them comfortable. This study does not provide enough evidence to judge whether such treatment causes more benefits than harms and further larger studies are needed before firm conclusions can be drawn.

There is no evidence to recommend that patients with non‐small cell lung cancer receive prophylactic radiotherapy to the brain following potentially curative treatment with surgery or radiotherapy

Patients with non‐small cell lung cancer have a significant risk of developing tumour spread (metastases) to the brain after potentially curative treatment. To date, four research trials have been published in full; they included different groups of patients who had different doses of radiotherapy, and different outcomes were measured. None of the trials showed that patients who had received prophylactic radiotherapy to the brain lived longer than those who had not, although fewer of them developed brain metastases. A fifth trial (RTOG 0214) has not yet been published in full and is discussed in the results section.

See all (168)

Terms to know

Lungs
One of a pair of organs in the chest that supplies the body with oxygen, and removes carbon dioxide from the body.
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
A group of lung cancers that are named for the kinds of cells found in the cancer and how the cells look under a microscope. The three main types of non-small cell lung cancer are squamous cell carcinoma, large cell carcinoma, and adenocarcinoma. Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common kind of lung cancer.
Small Cell Lung Cancer
An aggressive (fast-growing) cancer that forms in tissues of the lung and can spread to other parts of the body. The cancer cells look small and oval-shaped when looked at under a microscope.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Cancer that begins in squamous cells. Squamous cells are thin, flat cells that look like fish scales, and are found in the tissue that forms the surface of the skin, the lining of the hollow organs of the body, and the lining of the respiratory and digestive tracts.

More about Lung Cancer

Photo of an adult

Also called: Malignant tumour of the lung, Malignant tumor of the lung

Other terms to know: See all 4
Lungs, Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer, Small Cell Lung Cancer

Related articles:
Cancer: Anxiety and Distress
For Health Professionals: Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
For Health Professionals: Small Cell Lung Cancer

Keep up with systematic reviews on Lung Cancer:

RSS

PubMed Health Blog...

read all...