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Basics of lung cancer.

Lung cancer happens when abnormal cells in the lung start to grow out of control. As more cancer cells develop, they form a tumor. According to the American Cancer Society®, lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer in both men and women. About 14 percent of all new cancer cases are lung cancer.1

There are three main types of lung cancer:

  • Non-small cell lung cancer (80-85 percent of cases)
  • Small cell lung cancer (10-15 percent of cases)
  • Carcinoid tumors (fewer than 5 percent of cases)

While all of these cancers occur in the same place, they are treated very differently. Within each type of lung cancer, there are subtypes. These subtypes start in different places in the lungs and originate from different kinds of cells within the lung.

Cancer can also start in a different organ in the body, such as the pancreas, kidney or skin, and spread to the lungs. This is called metastatic cancer and its treatment is based on where it started in the body.

Common treatments for lung cancer include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Immunotherapy, which helps the immune system recognize and destroy cancer cells
  • Radiofrequency ablation, which uses high-energy radio waves to heat the tumor
  • Targeted drugs, which focus on keeping specific types of cancer cells from growing

The type of treatment your doctor plans for you will depend on the stage of your cancer (how far it has spread), the specific type of cancer, and your overall state of health.

Because most treatments for cancer have side effects, it’s important to take care of yourself both before and during treatment. Things you can do to make treatment easier include:

  • Getting enough rest
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Staying physically active
  • Staying connected with family and friends

If you have any questions about your treatment, or have concerns about side effects, talk to your doctor or call your CVS Specialty CareTeam.

This information is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about your medical condition and prior to starting any new treatment. CVS Specialty assumes no liability whatsoever for the information provided or for any diagnosis or treatment made as a result, nor is it responsible for the reliability of the content.

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1American Cancer Society® Website. Accessed October 3, 2018.

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