About This Condition
Lung cancer is a malignancy of the lung. It is characterized by unregulated replication of cells creating tumors, with the possibility of some of the cells spreading to other sites (metastasis).
This article includes a discussion of studies that have assessed whether certain vitamins, minerals, herbs, or other dietary ingredients offered in dietary or herbal supplements may be beneficial in connection with the reduction of risk of developing lung cancer.
This information is provided solely to aid consumers in discussing supplements with their healthcare providers. It is not advised, nor is this information intended to advocate, promote, or encourage self prescription of these supplements for cancer risk reduction or treatment. Furthermore, none of this information should be misconstrued to suggest that dietary or herbal supplements can or should be used in place of conventional anticancer approaches or treatments.
It should be noted that certain studies referenced below, indicating the potential usefulness of a particular dietary ingredient or dietary or herbal supplement in connection with the reduction of risk of lung cancer, are preliminary evidence only. Some studies suggest an association between high blood or dietary levels of a particular dietary ingredient with a reduced risk of developing lung cancer. Even if such an association were established, this does not mean that dietary supplements containing large amounts of the dietary ingredient will necessarily have a cancer risk reduction effect.
Cancer of the lung is the leading cause of death from cancer in both men and women in the United States. Cigarette smoking is by far the most important risk factor for the development of lung cancer. Air pollution is another risk factor. A previous diagnosis of tuberculosis increases the risk of lung cancer by 5 to 10%.
In its early stages, lung cancer usually causes no symptoms. As a result, lung cancer is generally not diagnosed until the disease is relatively advanced. At the time of diagnosis, common symptoms of lung cancer are similar to those of some other respiratory diseases: cough, blood stained sputum, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Lung cancer is sometimes diagnosed from a chest x-ray done for another condition. Pneumonia lasting more than two months may indicate the presence of lung cancer and should be followed-up with further testing. Later symptoms of lung cancer generally result from spread to other parts of the body (metastasis). These symptoms may include chest or shoulder pain, unexplained weight loss, bone pain, hoarseness, headaches, seizures and swelling of the face or neck. Lung cancer is usually a fatal disease, except for the minority of patients diagnosed at the early stages of the disease.
Early stage lung cancer is primarily treated with surgery, often accompanied by radiation and chemotherapy. In more advanced stages of the disease, chemotherapy and surgery may still be used, although the surgery is no longer likely to achieve a cure.