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Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer (cont.)


Lung cancer remains a highly preventable disease because 85% of lung cancers occur in people who smoke or used to smoke. The best way to prevent lung cancer is not to smoke.

  • Cigarette smoking is highly addictive, and quitting often proves to be difficult. However, smoking rates have decreased recently in North America and in other parts of the world.
  • People who smoke who use a combination of supplemental nicotine, group therapy, and behavioral training show a significant drop in smoking rates.
  • People who smoke who use a sustained-release form of the antidepressant bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban) have a much higher quitting rate than average and a higher abstinence rate after 1 year.

Screening for lung cancer

  • The American Cancer Society does not currently recommend routine chest X-ray screening for lung cancer. This means that many health insurance plans do not cover screening chest X-ray films.
  • Low-dose CT scans of the chest annually in those age 55 to 74 who have been smokers or continue to smoke - especially more than one pack a day for more than 30 years, or the equivalent, and have no history of lung cancer now appear to increase the detection of early-stage lun cancers in those screened. The testing is relatively expensive and debate continues on this subject.
  • People who smoke or used to smoke may want to have a periodic chest X-ray film anyway. They should discuss this with their health care providers.


Overall, 14% of people with NSCLC survive for at least 5 years.

  • People who have stage I NSCLC and undergo surgery have a 70% chance of surviving 5 years.
  • People with extensive nonoperable NSCLC have an average survival duration of 9 months.

How well the person with NSCLC functions can have a strong effect on the survival duration. A person with small-cell lung cancer who functions well has an advantage over someone who cannot work or pursue normal activities.

Complications of NSCLC

  • Spinal cord compression
  • Bone pain
  • Hormone or electrolyte imbalances
  • Problems with mental functioning or concentration
  • Visual problems
  • Liver failure
  • Pain in right side from enlarged liver
  • Weight loss
  • Severe hemoptysis

Complications of chemotherapy

  • Unexplained fever (due to neutropenia or infection)
  • Bleeding (due to low platelet count)
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Kidney failure
  • Peripheral neuropathy (tingling, numbness, pain in extremities)
  • Hearing problems
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/11/2014
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