Chest Cavity Cancers
Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men (behind prostate cancer) and women (behind breast cancer). The lungs are a pair of organs in the chest that supplies the body with oxygen, and removes carbon dioxide from the body.
More than one million people world-wide are diagnosed each year with lung cancer, including approximately 170,000 people in the United States.
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer accounts for about 80 percent of all lung cancers. It is divided into different subtypes based on the cells the tumor develops from. These include adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and large cell carcinoma.
- Adenocarcinoma is the most common subtype and usually develops at the edges of the lungs. This is usually slow growing and is frequently found in nonsmokers and women.
- Squamous cell cancers are strongly associated with smoking and are usually found in the larger airways and toward the center of the chest.
- Large cell cancers account for the fewest number in the non-small cell cancer category. Multiple treatment modalities, such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, are available and are recommended according to the stage of your disease.
Small cell lung cancer is less common than non-small cell lung cancer and tends to be more aggressive and is more common in smokers. It is usually divided into two categories. Limited stage is frequently responsive to a combination treatment of systemic chemotherapy and radiation. Extensive stage is treated with systemic chemotherapy.
See the National Cancer Institute Web site for more information about lung cancer.
Chest Wall Cancer
Chest wall cancer occurs in the muscles, bones, and joints that make up the area of the body between the neck and the abdomen.
Esophageal cancer is cancer of the esophagus, the muscular tube through which food passes from the throat to the stomach. See the National Cancer Institute Web site for more information about esophageal cancer.
Mediastinum cancer occurs in the area between the lungs, including the heart and its large blood vessels, the trachea, the esophagus, the bronchi, and lymph nodes.
Pleural cancer occurs in the layer of tissue covering the lungs and lining the interior wall of the chest cavity that protects and cushions the lungs. Mesothelioma is cancer of the pleural lining and is associated with asbestos exposure.
Thymoma is a disease in which cancer cells are found in the thymus. The thymus is a small organ that lies under the breastbone. It makes white blood cells known as lymphocytes that travel throughout the body to fight infection. Thymoma is usually a slow growing tumor that does not spread beyond the thymus. People with thymoma often have other diseases of the immune system, most commonly myasthenia gravis, a disease in which the muscles become weak. See the National Cancer Institute Web site for more information about thymoma and thymic carcinoma.
Resources and Support
Here are some helpful lung and other chest cavity cancer-related resources, including group and one-on-one support programs printed and online educational materials, and telephone hotlines.
- American Lung Association is a voluntary health organization that fights lung disease in all forms through its advocacy, education and grant programs.
- The Lung Cancer Alliance is the only national non-profit organization advocating on behalf of lung cancer patients, survivors, families, caregivers, and those at risk. Support programs include the Lung Cancer Hotline, a toll-free information and referral service; the Phone Buddy Program, a peer-to-peer support network; newsletter; and specialized lung cancer information and educational materials.
- Lungcancer.org, sponsored by Cancer Care and Oncology Nursing, is the official Web site of It’s Time To Focus on Lung Cancer, a special awareness campaign up-to-date and accurate information that encourages early diagnosis; shares developments in screening and treatment; and offers support to lung cancer patients and their loved ones.
- Lung Cancer Online provides a comprehensive directory to Internet information and resources for patients and families.
- Lungs for Life 5k is a non-profit that supports IU lung cancer research and awareness activities about how this disease affects so many Americans each year.
- The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF), whose mission is dedicated to mesothelioma research, education and awareness, provides information about centers specializing in mesothelioma, treatments which are beneficial, exciting new discoveries and available clinical trials.
For additional cancer information, see the general cancer Support section of this Web site or call the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER.