When you breathe in, air passes from the nose or mouth through the windpipe (trachea) which divides into two air passages, one going to each lung
The two air passages are each known as the right and left bronchus and they form smaller tubes called bronchioles, which carry air through the lungs
At the end of the bronchioles are millions of tiny air sacs or alveoli. It is here that oxygen is absorbed from the air and passes into the bloodstream to be circulated around the body
Carbon dioxide is a waste product that must be removed from the body. It passes from the bloodstream into the alveoli and is expelled from the lungs when you breathe out
Lung cancer affects the cells of your lung and usually starts in the lining of an airway. There are two main types of lung cancer and they treated differently:
1. Small cell lung cancer
Small cell lung cancer is very strongly linked with cigarette smoking and tends to start in the middle of the lungs. Surgery is not often used for this type of a tumour because it usually spreads early. It is best treated with drugs (chemotherapy), usually combined with radiotherapy.
2. Non-small cell lung cancer
Non-small cell lung cancer affects cells that line the tubes into the lungs (main bronchi) and smaller airways and includes squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, large cell carcinoma and bronchiolo-alveolar cell carcinoma. If a non-small cell lung cancer is confined to a part of the lung, it might be removed via surgery. If your non-small cell lung cancer is not suitable for surgery because the tumour may have spread to the chest wall, lymph nodes or elsewhere, then other treatments may be necessary.
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