Cancer Information 

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Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer forms in the 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.  Approximately 2,640 Arkansans were estimated to be diagnosed with lung cancer, and 2,210 to die due to lung cancer in Arkansas in 2008.  Arkansas averages approximately 2,389 lung cancer cases per year.

Risk factors for lung cancer include:

  1. Tobacco use is a major risk factor for lung cancer.
  2. Secondhand smoke exposure also increases the risk.
  3. Radon is a radioactive gas that can accumulate in buildings and mines and can increase the risk.
  4. Asbestos exposure
  5. Family history of lung cancer
  6. Environmental exposure to certain metals like chromium, cadmium and arsenic.
  7. Most people are older than 65 years when diagnosed with lung cancer.


Early lung cancer often does not cause symptoms. But as the cancer grows, common symptoms may include:

  • a cough that gets worse or does not go away
  • breathing trouble, such as shortness of breath
  • constant chest pain
  • coughing up blood
  • a hoarse voice
  • frequent lung infections, such as pneumonia
  • feeling very tired all the time
  • weight loss with no known cause

These symptoms are common in other diseases, but if you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment lead to better outcomes.

Learn more about Lung Cancer

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can lung cancer be prevented?

Answer: The best way to avoid getting lung cancer is to quit smoking or never to start. Avoiding second-hand smoke and avoiding cancer-causing chemicals is also important. In some cases, people who get lung cancer have no known risk factors. Unfortunately, there is no known way to prevent all cases of lung cancer.

Q: I have smoked for 25 years but don't have lung cancer. Should I have an annual lung screening?

Answer: You should talk to your doctor about this issue. Screening for lung cancer is controversial, because it can detect scars and other irregularities that may be mistaken for cancer. However, screening can find cancers when they are early, and therefore more treatable. Studies are being conducted to determine whether or not screening with spiral computerized tomography or standard chest x-ray can reduce lung cancer deaths.

Q: Do non-smokers get lung cancer?

Answer: Yes, non-smokers get lung cancer. There are factors other than smoking that increase a person’s risk of getting lung cancer. Breathing in other people’s smoke, exposure to pollution, and history of lung disease are also risk factors for lung cancer.