Lung Cancer: Overview, Study Guide, and Practice Questions

Lung cancer is a form of cancer that affects the tissues and cells of the lungs. It is more common in people who smoke or use tobacco-related products.

This study guide has been designed to provide a brief overview of pulmonary cancer. It also includes practice questions aimed at evaluating your knowledge.

What is Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer is one of the major public health concerns across the world. It is estimated to comprise nearly 25% of cancer deaths.

Smoking and tobacco consumption are the leading causes of lung cancer. These factors are also associated with a poor prognosis of the lung cancer patients with only 1 out of every 6 patients having shown the chances of survival for more than 5 years after the diagnosis.

Research studies have suggested that smoking and the consumption of tobacco products have not declined in spite of efforts by the concerned healthcare authorities to create awareness about the harmful impact of these habits. This indicates that the incidence of lung cancer is likely to worsen for years to come.

Lung cancer may also develop in non-smokers, though, the overwhelming majority of the cases occur in people who smoke.

What are the risk factors for lung cancer?

  • Environmental exposure
  • Occupational exposure
  • Dietary factors
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Air pollution
  • COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)

The diagnosis of pulmonary cancer is often confirmed with tests such as a PET scan, (positron emission tomography). It is an imaging method that uses radioactive substances to evaluate the metabolic activities of the lungs.

Treatment of lung cancer

The treatment of lung cancer depends on the stage of the condition. There are different stages of this disease and each may lead to the development of different signs and symptoms.

The treatment method would vary among different patients depending on the stage as well as the extent or severity of the signs and symptoms.

The common treatment methods for patients with lung cancer include:

  • Surgical resection of the affected tissues
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Targeted pharmacotherapy

Practice Questions for Lung Cancer:

Why is smoking cessation an important aspect of the management of lung cancer?

Smoking cessation is essential because it can help reduce the risk of mortality associated with lung cancer. It can also improve the prognosis and the survival rate of patients who have received treatment for lung cancer.

What are the leading causes of lung cancer-related mortality?

Bronchogenic carcinoma is more commonly associated with a higher risk of mortality linked to lung cancers. It is estimated that more than 200000 cases of bronchogenic carcinoma are diagnosed every year making it a major health concern.

What does Bronchoalveolar Cell Carcinoma mean?

It is a form of lung cancer that is characterized by the occurrence of the tumor at the level of the smaller airways, often presenting as pneumonia.

What is Adenocarcinoma?

It is a form of cancer that is characterized by the changes in the glandular structures.

What is a Non-Small Cell Carcinoma?

It is a form of cancer that grows more slowly compared to the small cell lung carcinoma. It is not found only in smokers and tends to occur in nearly 85 to 87 percent of cases of all lung cancers.

What does Large Cell Carcinoma mean?

It is a form of lung cancer that is characterized by the presence of large cells detected with the help of tests such as microscopy.

Which are the most common risk factors associated with a majority of bronchogenic carcinoma?

Smoking is the most common risk factor associated with a majority of bronchogenic carcinoma.

What is the common form of bronchogenic carcinoma?

Adenocarcinoma is the most common form of bronchogenic carcinoma, comprising more than 40% of cases.

What are the major histopathologic forms of bronchogenic carcinoma?

The major histopathologic forms of bronchogenic carcinoma include adenocarcinoma, small cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.

What are the factors leading to the clinical manifestation of bronchogenic carcinoma?

The clinical manifestation of bronchogenic carcinoma usually results from the localized growth of the tumor mass, local spread of the cancer cells, metastases to the and extrathoracic organs, and the paraneoplastic syndrome.

Which is the most commonly used staging system for the non–small cell bronchogenic carcinoma based on?

The staging system for the non–small cell bronchogenic carcinoma is based on the TNM classification. It comprises the status of a primary tumor (T), the involvement of the local or regional lymph nodes (N), and the presence or extent of metastasis (M).

This classification is used to categorize the patients with lung cancer into different stages that correlate with their chances of survival.

For example; the small cell lung cancer is grouped into 2 stages, called the limited stage and the extensive stage, though the TNM system of classification may also be used for the same.

What are the commonly used treatments for the patients with non–small cell lung cancer?

The commonly used treatments for the patients with non–small cell lung cancer include surgical resection of the tumor mass, radiation, and chemotherapy.

What is the most effective way for the prevention of lung cancer?

The most effective way for the prevention of lung cancer is to avoid smoking, both active and passive.

What are the signs to look for the diagnosis of Pancoast’s Syndrome?

The signs to look for the diagnosis of Pancoast’s Syndrome include the presence of a supraclavicular mass and an apical lung tumor that involves the C8, T1, and T2 nerve roots leading to shoulder pain.

The pain usually radiates along the distribution of the ulnar nerve in the arm. Also, the carcinoma in the apex of the lung often causes compression of the cervical plexus.

What does Transbronchial Needle Aspiration mean?

It is a diagnostic method that involves obtaining a sample of the lung tissue via a bronchoscope by passing a small thin needle through the bronchus.

What is Transthoracic Needle Biopsy?

It is a technique used for obtaining the biopsy of the lung tissue by passing a  needle into the chest guided by imaging.


Respiratory therapists and students can attend our respiratory webinars 2021 to learn more about the management of lung cancer. Our Respiratory Therapy CME Conferences 2021 is focused on providing the latest information about the symptoms, staging, diagnosis, and treatment of different forms of lung cancer that will help you manage your patients more efficiently and improve their chances of complete recovery.