Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer in the United States. Nearly 238,000 people were diagnosed with lung cancer in 2023, according to the American Lung Association. While smoking is the main cause of lung cancer, asbestos exposure can also put you at risk. We can help you access financial compensation for asbestos lung cancer — get started right now.

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Written and Fact-Checked by: Lung Cancer Group

What Is Lung Cancer?

A graphic showing the lungs and tumors inside of them.Lung cancer forms when cells in lung tissue mutate and divide at out-of-control rates.

Lung cancer can be deadly if tumors spread throughout the body and cause major organs to shut down.

Lung Cancer Quick Facts

  • Causes: You could develop lung cancer if you smoke or breathe in cancer-causing substances like asbestos and radon.
  • Symptoms: Common symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, and chest pain.
  • Risk factors: A family history of asbestos exposure, lung cancer, or pre-existing health problems can put you at risk.
  • Types: Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC) are the two main types. Bronchial carcinoids account for the third and rarest type.
  • Treatments: You may be able to beat lung cancer with treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
  • Survival: Lung cancer life expectancy ranges from 8-23 months, but some patients can live for decades.

A lung cancer diagnosis can bring a lot of uncertainty and stress, but there is hope.

The Lung Cancer Group team can walk with you through your lung cancer journey and help you access financial compensation for health care costs and other expenses. Get a free case review now to see if you’re eligible.

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Causes of Lung Cancer

There are several possible causes of lung cancer, with the most notable being cigarette smoke and asbestos exposure. Learn about common lung cancer causes below.

  • Smoking

    Smoking is the main cause of lung cancer. Cigarette smoking causes 80-90% of all lung cancer deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    The smoke from cigarettes and other tobacco products contains thousands of toxins. These toxins can damage lung cells and cause mutations that lead to cancer.

  • Secondhand Smoke

    You could be exposed to secondhand smoke if you lived with someone who regularly smoked cigarettes.

    Over 7,300 people die every year from lung cancer caused by secondhand smoke, according to the American Lung Association (ALA).

  • Asbestos

    Asbestos is a mineral made up of tiny fibers. If you inhale the fibers, they can get stuck in your lungs and cause cancer 10-50 years later.

    Over 27 million people were exposed to products made with asbestos before the early 1980s, and manufacturers hid the health risks for decades. As a result, thousands are diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases like lung cancer each year.

    You can get compensation from manufacturers if you have asbestos lung cancer. Call (877) 446-5767 now to get started.

  • Radon

    Radon exposure is the second-most common cause of lung cancer. Radon is a gas that naturally forms as radioactive materials found in the Earth break down.

    Radon gas can come up through the soil and enter your home. It has no color or odor, so you won’t notice it unless you have a detection kit. If you breathe in radon particles, they can get stuck in your lungs and cause cancer.

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that radon is the main cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers. Further, the American Cancer Society (ACS) found that those who smoked cigarettes and were exposed to radon had a greater risk of lung cancer

Lung Cancer Risk Factors

Many factors could put you at risk of lung cancer besides smoking, asbestos, and radon.

Lung cancer risk factors include:

  • Air pollution: You can develop lung cancer if the air outside is filled with toxic chemicals. Vehicles, power plants, and fires can release cancer-causing substances into the air.
  • Family history of lung cancer: You’re at a higher risk if family members were diagnosed, as you may have been exposed to cancer-causing materials or have a genetic risk.
  • HIV infections: HIV weakens the body’s ability to fight cancer. Those with HIV or AIDS are at a higher risk of lung cancer even if they don’t smoke.
  • Pre-existing lung diseases: Those with other lung-related illnesses like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and tuberculosis may be at greater risk of lung cancer, according to a report from the medical journal Medicine.

Talk to your doctor if you’re worried about developing lung cancer. Doctors may recommend regular lung cancer screenings if you may be at risk.

Symptoms of Lung Cancer

Lung cancer symptoms include:

  • A cough that worsens over time
  • Blood in the sputum (coughed-up mucus)
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss

Lung cancer usually doesn’t cause any symptoms until it has started to spread. More symptoms appear as the cancer reaches other parts of the body. Symptoms of advanced lung cancer include bone pain, headache, and swelling of lymph nodes.

See a doctor right away if you have symptoms of lung cancer. Doctors can then take steps to diagnose and treat these symptoms.

Were you exposed to asbestos and now have lung cancer? We may be able to help you. Get a free case review now to learn more.

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Lung Cancer Diagnosis

Doctors use several tests to diagnose lung cancer.

A doctor holds up a chest X-ray.

First, they will look at your medical history. Your doctor may want to know about your smoking habits, if you worked around toxins like asbestos, and if any family members had lung cancer.

Your doctors can also perform a physical exam to check for lung cancer symptoms. From there, they may order imaging tests to look in your lungs for tumors or other signs of cancer.

Lung cancer imaging tests include:

  • Chest X-ray: An X-ray uses a low dose of radiation to take a picture of the inside of your lungs. This is usually the first scan doctors perform if they think you have lung cancer, according to the ACS.
  • CT (computed tomography) scan: CT scans are like X-rays that take more detailed pictures of the lungs. The Mayo Clinic notes that CT scans can often show lung tumors that weren’t found on a normal X-ray.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan: This may be used if doctors think lung cancer has spread to your spine or brain, according to the ACS. MRIs use radio waves to make images.
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan: With this test, you’ll be injected with a very low dose of radioactive material. It will spread into your body and attach to certain cells, allowing doctors to more easily find cancer tumors.

If your doctors think you have lung cancer after the scans, they will order a biopsy, which is the only way to confirm your diagnosis.

During a biopsy, doctors remove a fluid or tissue sample from your body and study it under a microscope. This biopsy sample may be removed using a bronchoscopy (in which a tube is fed through the nose to the lungs). They can then see what type of cancer you have (if any).

Lung Cancer Screenings

The Mayo Clinic recommends getting tested for lung cancer each year if you’re at risk but don’t have symptoms. This is known as a lung cancer screening.

Doctors will perform imaging scans of your lungs to check for any possible signs of cancer during the screening.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force suggests getting screened if:

  • You smoked 1 or more packs of cigarettes per day for 20+ years
  • You currently smoke
  • You quit smoking less than 15 years ago
  • You’re between the ages of 50 and 80

A screening can help doctors diagnose lung cancer before symptoms appear. An early diagnosis is very important as the cancer usually hasn’t spread far at that point, making it easier to treat.

Types of Lung Cancer

There are two main types of lung cancer: small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Both types usually start in the bronchus (one of the tubes that allow air to enter the lungs).

Did You Know?

The type of lung cancer you’ll have depends on the cells that make up tumors in your body. Doctors can see which type you have when looking at a biopsy sample.

Learn about the different types of lung cancer below.

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)

Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common lung cancer type. It makes up 80-85% of all lung cancer cases, according to the ACS.

NSCLC is hard to diagnose before it spreads since symptoms could be mistaken for less serious illnesses. According to Yale Medicine, 80% of NSCLC patients aren’t diagnosed until the cancer has spread.

Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC)

Small cell lung cancer is a less common type of lung cancer, making up 10-15% of lung cancer cases, but it is more aggressive.

SCLC cells are smaller than NSCLC cells and typically spread quickly through the body, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Bronchial Carcinoids

Bronchial carcinoids are the third type of lung cancer and also the least common. Carcinoids account for just 1-2% of all lung cancer cases.

This type is often easy to treat, and most patients can live for many years if they get prompt medical care.

Asbestos Lung Cancer

You could develop any type of lung cancer listed above due to asbestos exposure. In these cases, your cancer could be described as asbestos lung cancer.

You’re still at risk even if you were a smoker, as asbestos fibers can worsen the effects of smoking and increase your cancer risk.

Makers of asbestos-based products knew the material was harmful but told no one for decades. You can pursue compensation and justice from these companies if you have asbestos lung cancer. Get started with a free case review.

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Lung Cancer Stages

Doctors classify lung cancer cases into stages during a diagnosis. These stages allow doctors to note the cancer’s spread (metastasis) and which treatments will be most helpful.

The stages of lung cancer vary depending on what type you have.

  • Stage 0

    The cancer is just on the top layer of the lung and is the easiest stage to treat.

  • Stage 1

    A small cancer tumor has formed in the lung.

  • Stage 2

    Tumors are larger than stage I and have started to spread into nearby lymph nodes.

  • Stage 3

    Tumors have spread into more lymph nodes, the mediastinum (space in the chest between the lungs), and/or some organs outside of the chest.

  • Stage 4

    Tumors have spread throughout the body to areas like the brain, heart, liver, or bones. This stage is the hardest to treat, and patients have the lowest life expectancies.

Doctors have a two-stage system for small-cell lung cancer.

  1. Limited stage: Limited or early-stage cancer is contained to one side of the chest and can be treated with radiation therapy. One-third of patients have limited stage SCLC.
  2. Extensive stage: The cancer has spread into the lungs, the fluid around the lungs, and/or to the bones, brain, and other organs.

Lung Cancer Prognosis

A prognosis is your health outlook after being diagnosed with a disease. A lung cancer prognosis depends on factors like your cancer type, stage, overall health, and more.

Doctors can tell you how long you’re projected to live (life expectancy) and how many other patients reached long-term survival (survival rate) as part of a prognosis.

Being told how long you may live can be scary or even traumatic. However, your prognosis could change for the better if you get treatment.

“Many doctors and nurses recommend not getting too hung up on your lung cancer prognosis. It is better to conserve your energy and focus on your treatment by taking one day at a time.”

— American Lung Association (ALA)

Lung Cancer Life Expectancy

The average lung cancer patient has a life expectancy between a few months and two years after a diagnosis.

Non-small cell lung cancer patients have an average life expectancy of 11-13 months. Those with small-cell lung cancer can live between 8 and 23 months, depending on their stage at the time of diagnosis.

That said, some lung cancer patients can live for years or decades after a lung cancer diagnosis. These patients are called lung cancer survivors.

You could qualify for financial compensation to cover treatments that can help you live longer with lung cancer. Call (877) 446-5767 now to learn more.

Lung Cancer Survival Rate

A survival rate is the number of patients still alive after being diagnosed with a disease. It’s typically measured in years.

The average 5-year survival rate for lung cancer patients is 18.6%, according to the ALA.

The 5-year survival rate is 56% if the cancer was diagnosed before it spread beyond the lungs. However, the 5-year survival rate drops to 5% in patients diagnosed after the cancer has spread to other organs.

Treatment for Lung Cancer

Lung cancer treatments can help you live longer, improve your quality of life, or both. Learn about the most common treatment options for lung cancer below.

Surgery

Oncology (cancer) doctors can remove tumors from the lungs and chest wall with different surgeries. Part or all of the lung may also be removed with surgery, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Doctors typically can only perform a major lung cancer surgery if you’re an early-stage cancer patient. For patients in later stages, a surgery wouldn’t be able to fully remove the cancer since it has spread through your body. Other treatments can help destroy or shrink tumors if surgery isn’t possible.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is medication that destroys cancer. Chemotherapy can be used to treat lung cancer at any stage, according to the ACS.

Chemotherapy can shrink tumors before or after surgery in early-stage lung cancer patients. It can also shrink tumors in late-stage patients when combined with radiation therapy or immunotherapy.

You may qualify for lung cancer compensation to help pay for chemotherapy and other treatments. Get a free case review to learn more.

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Radiation

Doctors can use beams of focused energy to destroy cancer cells. This is known as radiation therapy.

Radiation and chemotherapy are often combined to treat late-stage lung cancer. Radiation can also shrink tumors before or after surgery.

Your cancer care team may also use radiation to prevent cancer from spreading to other body parts, like the brain.

Immunotherapy

Lung cancer cells can sometimes avoid being attacked by your immune system. Certain medications help your body find lung cancer cells and destroy them. These are known as immunotherapy drugs.

Doctors may combine immunotherapy with other treatments like chemotherapy to kill as much of the cancer as possible.

Other Lung Cancer Treatment Options

There are many other lung cancer treatments beyond the ones listed above.

Additional lung cancer treatments include:

  • Alternative treatments: Treatments like yoga, meditation, supplements, and more may ease some lung cancer symptoms. However, they are not medically proven to help you beat cancer. Talk to your doctor before starting alternative treatments.
  • Clinical trials: These studies allow researchers to test new treatments on patients. Ask your doctor about clinical trials you may qualify for if you are interested.
  • Palliative care: Palliative care is a treatment to relieve painful symptoms of lung cancer. Minor surgeries and low doses of chemotherapy and radiation can all be used as palliative care.
  • Radiofrequency ablation: This treatment uses electricity to destroy cancer cells.
  • Targeted therapies: These treatments can kill cancer cells by attacking different parts of the DNA of cancer cells.

For best results, work with your medical team to develop a treatment plan that is best for your case.

Lung Cancer Survivors

A female nurse helps a man in a wheelchair. Both are wearing surgical masks.

Treatments have helped many lung cancer patients outlive their original prognosis by years or decades. These patients are called lung cancer survivors.

It is possible to achieve long-term survival even if you’re diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer. For example, a man was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2012 and is still alive today.

He even has “no evidence of disease,” which means doctors can’t find any trace of the cancer in his body.

As lung cancer research continues and new treatments develop, more patients may be able to become survivors.

“The standard of care for lung cancer treatment has changed just in the last five years, due to advances in clinical research that our patients have contributed to. There is real hope in the field that we are able to improve and extend patients’ lives.”

— Anne Chiang, MD
Yale Medicine Lung Cancer Oncologist

Compensation for Lung Cancer Patients

If you or a loved one was exposed to asbestos, you may qualify for lung cancer compensation to help cover any expenses that stem from your diagnosis.

While insurance may cover some of your medical bills, it may not be enough to cover everything. Further, you may have to deal with the loss of wages, travel expenses, and basic living costs — all of which can add up in addition to treatment costs.

If you’re eligible, Lung Cancer Group can help you access the highest lung cancer payouts possible in the shortest amount of time. Each case varies, but some lung cancer patients we’ve helped have received millions of dollars.

Here are some past lung cancer payouts we’ve secured:

  • $3 million to a Missouri woman
  • $2.77 million to a Tennessee pipefitter
  • $2.18 million to an Illinois electrician
  • $2 million to a California construction worker
  • $2 million to a New York railroad worker
  • $1.95 million to a Colorado man
  • $1.57 million to a Nevada veteran
  • $1.57 million to a California plumber

Find out how much lung cancer compensation you may qualify for with a free case review.

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Get Help from Lung Cancer Group Now

A lung cancer diagnosis can be stressful, but you don’t have to go through it alone.

Lung Cancer Group can help you navigate life after being diagnosed and get compensation from manufacturers if you have asbestos lung cancer.

Our team may also be able to help if you have lung cancer but aren’t sure if you were exposed to asbestos.

Don’t wait: Call (877) 446-5767 or get a free case review after a lung cancer diagnosis to see how we can assist you.

Lung Cancer FAQs

How long does a person live with lung cancer?

The average life expectancy for lung cancer is 8-23 months, but it may be possible for some to live for 10 years or more after being diagnosed.

You have a better chance of being cured or living longer if you’re diagnosed with early-stage lung cancer and if you get prompt medical care.

Yes, you may be able to live a good life with lung cancer. This is because many people can be cured of lung cancer — especially if they are diagnosed before the cancer spreads.

For example, 80% to 90% of patients with early-stage small cell lung cancer can be cured, according to Northwestern University’s Lurie Cancer Center.

You need to work with experienced lung cancer doctors if you want to be cured or enter remission when there are no more signs of cancer. Lung cancer can quickly become fatal without treatment.

Signs of end-stage lung cancer include:

  • A chronic, long-term cough
  • Chest and bone pain
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss

Some symptoms (such as chest pain) may have appeared earlier but have worsened.

Get screened if you’re at risk of lung cancer, and see a doctor if you notice any of the warning signs listed above.

Lung cancer can spread very rapidly through your body, especially without treatment. Treatments can slow the cancer down so you can live longer or even be fully cured.

Yes. You can get compensation for lung cancer if you worked around asbestos for an extended period.

Manufacturers sold thousands of asbestos-based products between the 1930s and early 1980s, even though they knew asbestos was harmful.

You can demand compensation from these manufacturers if you now have asbestos lung cancer. We’ll help you get started — chat with us now.

No, mesothelioma is not a type of lung cancer, though both can be caused by asbestos exposure.

Mesothelioma is a cancer that forms in the lining of major organs, most notably the lung lining (pleura).

The only cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. Lung cancer can be caused by many toxins, such as smoking, asbestos exposure, radon exposure, and more.

Our team can help you pursue financial aid if you or a loved one has mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer. Call (877) 446-5767 now to start the process.

Doctors at top cancer centers can make sure you’re getting the best lung cancer treatments possible. By working with them, you have a better chance of living longer or even being cured.

Lung Cancer Group was established by a team of caring advocates so those with lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases can get the help they deserve. Our site provides the most accurate and up-to-date information about lung cancer, its link to asbestos, and financial compensation available to patients. Contact us to learn more and get assistance.

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  2. American Cancer Society (2023, January 12). “Key Statistics for Lung Cancer.” Retrieved January 29, 2024, from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/lung-cancer/about/key-statistics.html.
  3. American Cancer Society (2022 March 2). “Lung Cancer Survival Rates.” Retrieved January 29, 2024, from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/lung-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/survival-rates.html.
  4. American Cancer Society (2022 August 15). “Tests for Lung Cancer.” Retrieved January 29, 2024, from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/lung-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/how-diagnosed.html.
  5. American Cancer Society (2019, October 1). “What Causes Lung Cancer?” Retrieved January 29, 2024, from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/lung-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/what-causes.html.
  6. American Lung Association (2022 November 17). “Lung Cancer Fact Sheet.” Retrieved January 29, 2024, from https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/lung-cancer/resource-library/lung-cancer-fact-sheet.
  7. American Lung Association (2023). “State of Lung Cancer 2023 Report.” Retrieved January 29, 2024, from https://www.lung.org/getmedia/186786b6-18c3-46a9-a7e7-810f3ce4deda/SOLC-2023-Print-Report.pdf.
  8. American Lung Association (2023, October 4). “Surviving Stage 4 Lung Cancer: A Personal Story.” Retrieved January 29, 2024, from https://www.lung.org/blog/surviving-lung-cancer-liver-mets.
  9. Canadian Cancer Society (2020 May). “Survival statistics for small cell lung cancer.” Retrieved January 29, 2024, from https://cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-types/lung/prognosis-and-survival/small-cell-lung-cancer-survival-statistics.
  10. Canadian Cancer Society (2020 May). “What is Lung Cancer?” Retrieved January 29, 2024, from https://cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-types/lung/what-is-lung-cancer.
  11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2022 October 25). “What is Lung Cancer?” Retrieved January 29, 2024, from https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/lung/basic_info/what-is-lung-cancer.htm.
  12. Environmental Working Group (n.d.). “Asbestos kills 12,000-15,000 people a year in the U.S.” Retrieved January 29, 2024, from https://www.asbestosnation.org/facts/asbestos-kills-12000-15000-people-per-year-in-the-u-s/.
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