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Disease

Lung cancer is not just one disease but rather a group of diseases. All forms of cancer cause cells in the body to change and grow out of control. Most types of cancer cells form a lump or mass called a tumor. Cells from the tumor can break away and travel to other parts of the body where they can continue to grow. This spreading process is called metastasis. When cancer spreads, it is still named after the part of the body where it started. For example, if breast cancer spreads to the lungs, it is still breast cancer, not lung cancer. Another word for cancerous is malignant, so a cancerous tumor is referred to as malignant. But not all tumors are cancer. A tumor that is not cancer is called benign. Benign tumors do not grow and spread the way cancer does. They are usually not a threat to life. A few cancers, such as blood cancers (leukemia), do not form a tumor. Most cancers are named after the part of the body where the cancerfirst starts. Lung cancer begins in the lungs. The lungs are two sponge-like organs in the chest. The right lung has three sections, called lobes. The left lung has two lobes. It is smaller because the heart takes up more room on that side of the body. The lungs bring air in and out of the body, taking in oxygen and getting rid of carbon dioxide gas, a waste product. The lining around the lungs, called the pleura, helps to protect the lungs and allows them to move during breathing. The windpipe (trachea) brings air down into the lungs. It divides into tubes called bronchi, which divide into smaller branches called bronchioles. At the end of these small branches are tiny air sacs known as alveoli. Most lung cancers start in the lining of the bronchi but they can also begin in other areas such as the trachea, bronchioles, or alveoli. Lung cancer often takes many years to develop. Once the lung cancer occurs, cancer cells can break away and spread to other parts of the body. Lung cancer is a life- threatening dis…

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