Lung Disease

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                      Lung Disease                                            tains mostly oxygen and nitrogen. But
                                                                              air also has things in it that can hurt our
                                                                              lungs. Bacteria, viruses, tobacco smoke,
                                                                              car exhaust, and other pollutants can be
                                                                              in the air. People with lung disease have
                      Q: What do healthy lungs do?                            difficulty breathing. These breathing
     1-800-994-9662   A:	 Lungs are the organs that allow us to               problems may prevent the body from
TDD: 1-888-220-5446       breathe. Lungs provide a huge area (as              getting enough oxygen.
                          large as a football field) for oxygen from
                          the air to pass into the bloodstream and       Q: Is lung disease a common health
                          carbon dioxide to move out. The cells              problem?
                          of our bodies need oxygen in order to
                                                                         A:	 Yes. More than 35 million Americans
                          work and grow. Our cells also need to
                                                                              have an ongoing (or chronic) lung dis-
                          get rid of carbon dioxide.	
                                                                              ease like asthma or chronic obstructive
                          During a normal day, we breathe nearly              pulmonary disease (COPD). If all types
                          25,000 times, and take in (inhale) large            of lung disease are lumped together it is
                          amounts of air. The air we take in con-             the number three killer in the United

            page 1

                                  N A T I O N A L W O M E N ’ S H E A L T H I N F O R M AT I O N C E N T E R
                               U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health
                                                            F R E Q U E N T LY A S K E D Q U E S T I O N S

                         States. It causes 1 in 7 deaths in this                Sixty-five percent of people who die
                         country each year.                                     from asthma are women.
                         The term lung disease refers to many                   More than twice as many women
                         disorders affecting the lungs such as:                 are diagnosed with chronic bronchi-          Ongoing obstructive lung diseases                   tis than men every year.
     1-800-994-9662         such as asthma, chronic bronchitis,
                            and emphysema                               Q: What types of lung disease are
TDD: 1-888-220-5446
                            Infections like inf luenza, pneumonia          most common in women?
                            and tuberculosis (TB)                       A: Three of the most common lung dis-
                            Lung cancer                                      eases in women are asthma, chronic
                                                                             obstructive pulmonary disease
                            Pulmonary embolism and pul-
                                                                             (COPD), and lung cancer. Other
                            monary hypertension
                                                                             important but less widespread lung
                            Pulmonary fibrosis and sarcoidosis               problems that affect women include:
                                                                                Pulmonary emboli and pulmonary
                      Q: Should women be worried about                          hypertension – These conditions
                         lung disease?                                          affect the blood f low and gas
                      A: Yes. The number of women diagnosed                     exchange in the lungs.
                         with lung disease in the United States is              Sarcoidosis and pulmonary fibrosis –
                         on the rise. The percentage of women                   People with these diseases have stiff-
                         dying from lung disease in this country                ening and scarring in the lungs.
                         is also increasing.                                    Inf luenza (the f lu) – This viral
                         Here are some other reasons why lung                   infection can affect the membrane
                         disease is an important health concern                 that surrounds the lungs.
                         for women:
                                                                             This FAQ gives detailed information
                            Lung cancer is the leading cancer                on asthma, COPD, and lung cancer.
                            killer of women in the United                    For more information on other lung
                            States. It kills more women than                 diseases, please visit the web sites of the
                            breast, ovarian, and cervical cancer             following organizations:
                                                                        "       National Heart, Lung, and
                            Deaths from lung cancer among                       Blood Institute (NHLBI)
                            women have risen 150 percent in
                                                                                American Lung Association
                            the last 20 years while deaths among
                            men are decreasing.
                                                                                National Institute of Allergy and
                            Studies show that women are 1.5
                                                                                Infectious Diseases
                            times more likely to develop lung
                            cancer than men.                                    Centers for Disease Control and
                            About 64,000 women in the United
                            States die every year from chronic               Asthma
                            obstructive pulmonary disease                    Asthma is an ongoing or chronic dis-
                            (COPD).                                          ease of the airways in the lungs called
            page 2

                                  N AT I O N A L W O M E N ’ S H E A LT H I N F O R M AT I O N C E N T E R
                              U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health
                                                        F R E Q U E N T LY A S K E D Q U E S T I O N S 

                      bronchial tubes. Bronchial tubes carry             COPD is the fourth leading cause of
                      air in and out of the lungs. In people             death in the United States. In 2003,
                      with asthma, the walls of the airways              more than 7.2 million women had
                      become swollen (inf lamed) and over-               COPD in this country. And more
                      sensitive. Asthmatic airways overreact             women have died from COPD than
                      to things like viruses, smoke, dust,               men every year since 2000.
     1-800-994-9662   mold, animal hair, roaches, and pollen.            In COPD, there is inf lammation of the
TDD: 1-888-220-5446   When they react they get narrower.                 tubes (bronchial tubes) that carry air in
                      This limits the f low of air into and out          and out of the lungs. This ongoing irri-
                      of the lungs. Asthma causes wheezing,              tation thickens and scars the lining of
                      coughing, tightness in the chest and               the bronchial tubes. The irritation also
                      trouble breathing.                                 causes the growth of cells that make
                      About 20 million Americans have asth-              mucus.
                      ma. Women are more likely to have asth-            If the airways become thickened
                      ma than men. In the United States more             enough to restrict air f low to and from
                      than 11 million women had asthma in                the lungs, the condition is called chron-
                      2003 compared to 8.2 million men.                  ic obstructive bronchitis. The excess
                      The percentage of women, especially                mucus leads to a constant cough typical
                      young women, diagnosed with asthma                 of this illness.
                      continues to the rise in the United                But early signs of COPD are often hard
                      States. Researchers are not sure why.              to detect. People often decrease their
                      But there are several theories.                    activity level without even realizing it.
                      Many experts think that more contact               And some people just assume age or
                      with indoor and outdoor allergens and              weight gain is the cause of their lack of
                      pollution plays a role in increasing the           energy.
                      rate of asthma. Exposure to house dust             In emphysema, the walls between the
                      mite and cockroach allergens as well as            air sacs (alveoli) are destroyed and the
                      tobacco smoke is linked to an increased            lung tissue is weakened. Normally oxy-
                      risk of asthma.                                    gen from the air goes into the blood
                      Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary                      through these air sacs. But as the air
                      Disease (COPD)                                     sacs become damaged, the lung has less
                      COPD is a term that describes related              surface area. This interferes with the
                      diseases: chronic obstructive bronchitis           movement of oxygen from the air into
                      and emphysema. These conditions                    the blood. So less oxygen passes into
                      often occur together. Both diseases                the blood of people with emphysema.
                      limit airf low out of the lungs and make           Emphysema causes shortness of breath,
                      breathing difficult. COPD gets worse               cough and wheezing (squeaky sound
                      with time.                                         when breathing).
                      In almost 90% of cases, smoking is the             Still, the early signs of emphysema are
                      cause of COPD. The single most                     often very hard to detect. Since 2004,
                      important thing a person can do to                 the rate of emphysema in American
                      reduce their risk of lung disease is to            women has increased by 5 percent. In
                      stop smoking.                                      contrast, the rate in men has decreased
            page 3

                              N AT I O N A L W O M E N ’ S H E A LT H I N F O R M AT I O N C E N T E R
                           U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health
                                                                 F R E Q U E N T LY A S K E D Q U E S T I O N S 

                          by 10 percent. In 2003, approximately                able to pinpoint what is wrong with
                          1.4 million women had emphysema.                     you.
                          Lung cancer
                          Lung cancer is a disease in which               Q:	 How can I decrease my chances        abnormal (malignant) lung cells divide              of lung disease?
     1-800-994-9662       without control. These cancerous cells          A:	 Things you can do to reduce your risk
                          can invade nearby tissues and/or spread              of all lung diseases include:
TDD: 1-888-220-5446
                          to other parts of the body. There are                ●	   Stop smoking. If you are a smoker,
                          two major kinds of lung cancer: non-                      the single most important thing you
                          small cell lung cancer and small cell                     can do to stay healthy is stop smok-
                          lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer                   ing. Talk to your doctor about the
                          is the most common kind.                                  best way to quit. Smoke from all
                          Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer                  tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars,
                          of American women. Lung cancer will                       and pipes) boosts the chances of
                          kill more than 68,000 women this year.                    lung disease.
                          And more and more women are being                    ●	   Avoid second hand smoke. The
                          diagnosed with this disease in the
                                                                                    best thing you can do to avoid lung
                          United States. Smoking causes 87% of
                                                                                    disease is to stay away from smoke.
                          all cases of lung cancer.
                                                                                    If you live or work with people who
                                                                                    smoke, ask them to smoke outside.
                      Q:	 How would I know if there was                             Non-smokers have the right to a
                          something wrong with my lungs?                            smoke-free work place. Keep in
                      A:	 Early signs of lung disease can be easy                   mind that cigar and pipe smoke is
                          to overlook. Often people with early                      just as harmful as cigarette smoke.
                          lung disease just say they don’t have                ●	   Test for radon. Find out if there
                          much energy.                                              are high levels of radon gas in your
                          Some common signs of lung disease                         home or workplace. People who
                          include:                                                  work in mines are often exposed to
                          ●	   trouble breathing                                    radon. And in some parts of the
                                                                                    United States, radon is found in
                          ●	   shortness of breath                                  houses. Kits you can buy at most
                          ●	   feeling like you’re not getting                      hardware stores can measure the
                               enough air                                           amount of radon gas in your home.
                          ●	   a decreased ability to exercise                 ●	   Steer clear of asbestos. Some jobs
                                                                                    expose workers to asbestos. If you
                          ●	   a cough that won’t go away
                                                                                    work in construction, shipbuilding,
                          ●	   coughing up blood or mucus                           asbestos mining or manufacturing,
                          ●	   pain or discomfort when breathing                    car repair (brake repair), and insula-
                               in or out                                            tion you should always wear protec-
                                                                                    tive clothing including a face mask.
                          If you have any of these symptoms, call                   Federal law protects people who
                          your doctor immediately. She will be                      work with asbestos. Employers who
            page 4

                                    N AT I O N A L W O M E N ’ S H E A LT H I N F O R M AT I O N C E N T E R
                                U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health
                                                             F R E Q U E N T LY A S K E D Q U E S T I O N S

                               work with asbestos must train their
            ●	   Smoking. Smoke from cigarettes,
                               workers about asbestos safety, pro
                  cigars and pipes is the number one
                               vide protective gear, and monitor
                   cause of lung disease. So the best
                               the levels of radon to which workers
                thing you can do to reduce your risk
                               are exposed.
                                        of lung disease is to stop smoking. If
                          ●	   Protect yourself from dust and
                      you live or work with a smoker, it is
     1-800-994-9662                                                                 also very important to steer clear of
                               chemical fumes. Working with

TDD: 1-888-220-5446            some chemicals like vinyl chloride
                  second hand smoke. Ask the person
                               and nickel chromates increases the
                  to smoke outdoors.
                               risk of lung cancer. If you spend a
            ●	   Radon gas. Radon gas is the sec-
                               lot of time working around dust and
                 ond leading cause of lung cancer.
                               chemical fumes, protect yourself.
                   Radon is naturally present in soil
                               Wear protective clothing including a
                and rocks. You can check your
                               gas mask and ventilate work areas.
                  home for radon with a kit bought at
                          ●	   Eat a healthy diet. Limited
                         many hardware stores.
                               research shows that people who eat
             ●	   Asbestos. Asbestos is natural fiber
                               diets rich in fruits and vegetables
                 that comes from minerals. The
                               have a lower risk of cancer. The
                    fibers break apart easily into tiny
                               American Cancer Society recom
     -                 pieces that can f loat in the air and
                               mends eating 5 to 6 servings of
                     stick to things. If a person inhales
                               fruits and vegetables every day.
                    asbestos particles, they can stick to
                          ●	   Ask your doctor about spirome
       -               their lungs. Asbestos harms lungs
                               try testing. This test checks how
                   cells which may lead to lung cancer.
                               well you can breathe. Some groups
              ●	   Air Pollution. Recent studies sug-
                               recommend routine spirometry test-
                  gest that some air pollutants like car
                               ing in at-risk groups. If you’re a
                  exhaust may contribute to asthma,
                               smoker over the age of 45, are
                      lung cancer, and other lung disease.
                               exposed to lung-damaging sub-    
                   But doctors still do not fully under-
                               stances at work, or have other risk
                 stand the link between pollution and
                               factors you should consider spirom
  -               lung disease.

                          ●	   See your doctor right away if you          Q: How can I find out if I have
                               have a cough that won't go away,              asthma?
                               trouble breathing, pain or discom- 
       A: Asthma can be hard to diagnose. This is
                               fort in your chest, or any of the
              because the signs of asthma are similar
                               other symptoms described in this
               those of other lung diseases. The signs
                                          of COPD, pneumonia, bronchitis, pul-
                                                                               monary embolism, anxiety and heart
                      Q: What causes lung disease? 	                           disease can all be confused for asthma.
                      A:	 There are many known causes of lung                  It is important to note that women are
                          disease. Still, the causes of many lung              misdiagnosed with asthma when they
                          diseases are still not known. Some                   really have COPD more often than
            page 5        known causes of lung disease include:                men.

                                    N AT I O N A L W O M E N ’ S H E A LT H I N F O R M AT I O N C E N T E R
                                U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health
                                                         F R E Q U E N T LY A S K E D Q U E S T I O N S

                      To figure out if asthma is causing your                   see if other lung diseases or infec-
                      discomfort, the doctor will first ask                     tions are causing your symptoms.
                      about your symptoms and health histo-                ●	   Electrocardiogram: An electro-
                      ry. She will then do a physical exam.                     cardiogram is a test that records the    To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor                      electrical activity of the heart. An
                      may run any of the following tests:                       electrocardiogram allows the doctor
                      ●	   Spirometry: The doctor uses a                        to see if heart disease is causing your
TDD: 1-888-220-5446                                                             breathing problems.
                           machine called a spirometer to see
                           how well you breathe. This test
                           measures how much air you can              Q: How is asthma treated?
                           blow out of your lungs. It also
                                                                      A: Asthma is a chronic disease that cannot
                           records how fast you can exhale it. If
                                                                           be cured. But medicines and lifestyle
                           these measurements are lower than
                                                                           changes can help control the symptoms.
                           normal, you may have asthma. But
                                                                           One way to help relieve asthma is to
                           sometimes people with asthma have
                                                                           avoid things in the environment that
                           normal spirometry results.
                                                                           make symptoms worse. A number of
                      ●	   Bronchodilator (Brong-ko-di-                    types of medicines are also used to treat
                           LA-tor) Reversibility Testing: If               asthma. Most work by opening the lung
                           your spirometry test is abnormal,               airways and reducing inf lammation.
                           your doctor will ask you to inhale a            The medicines used to treat asthma fall
                           medicine called a bronchodilator.               into two groups: quick-relief and long-
                           Then the doctor repeats spirometry              term control.
                           to measure how this medicine affects
                           your breathing. Bronchodilators                 Quick-Relief
                           relax muscles around the airways                Quick relief medicines are used only
                           making it easier to breathe.                    when needed. They should be taken
                                                                           when symptoms are getting worse to
                      ●	   Challenge Test: If the diagnosis is
                                                                           prevent a full-blown asthma attack.
                           still unclear after spriometry and
                                                                           They can also be used to stop attacks
                           bronchodilator reversibility testing,
                                                                           once they have started. These medi-
                           doctors often suggest a challenge
                                                                           cines relieve symptoms in minutes.
                           test. During this test you will inhale
                                                                           Short-acting inhaled bronchodilators
                           a medicine that narrows the airways
                                                                           (albuterol and pirbuterol) are two com-
                           in your lungs. After you inhale the
                                                                           monly used quick relief medicines.
                           medicine, the doctor will do a
                                                                           They quickly relax tightened muscles
                           spirometry test. If you have asthma,
                                                                           around the airways.
                           the medicine will reduce the
                           amount and speed of the air exhaled.            Long-Term
                      The doctor may also suggest other tests              Long-term control medicines or con-
                      to make sure another disease is not                  troller medicines are taken every day,
                      causing your problems. These include:                usually over a long period of time. Over
                                                                           time, these medicines relieve symptoms
                      ●	   Chest x ray: This allows the doctor
                                                                           and prevent asthma attacks in those with
                           to see the condition of your lungs.
                                                                           mild or moderate persistent asthma.
            page 6         Chest x rays can help the doctor to

                                N AT I O N A L W O M E N ’ S H E A LT H I N F O R M AT I O N C E N T E R
                            U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health
                                                            F R E Q U E N T LY A S K E D Q U E S T I O N S

                          These medications help control inf lam-            avoiding triggers helps make sure the
                          mation in the lungs. To be effective,              baby gets enough oxygen. Untreated
                          they must be used every day. These                 asthma can harm a growing fetus.
                          medicines are not intended to relieve              Many asthma medicines seem to be safe
                          symptoms immediately. Some may                     for use during pregnancy. Inhaled med-
                          even take a few weeks to have their full           icines are usually preferred for pregnant
     1-800-994-9662       effect.                                            women. These medicines are less likely
TDD: 1-888-220-5446       Some long-term control medicines                   to be passed on to the baby than oral
                          include:                                           medicines. However, sometimes preg-
                             Cromolyn and nedocromil – These                 nant women need oral medicines to
                             inhaled medicines keep airways                  control symptoms. Talk with your doc-
                             from swelling when a person comes               tor about the safety of asthma medi-
                             in contact with a trigger.                      cines during pregnancy. You should
                                                                             also talk to your doctor about getting a
                             Corticosteroids – These medicines               f lu shot after the first trimester. The f lu
                             can be inhaled or taken in a pill               can be very serious for pregnant
                             form. They can prevent and                      women with asthma.
                             decrease swelling in the airways.
                             Corticosteroids can also decrease the
                             amount of mucus.                           Q: How do I find out if I have
                                                                           chronic obstructive pulmonary
                             Anti-leukotrienes – These medi-
                                                                           disease (COPD)?
                             cines come in a pill. They open the
                             airways, control swelling and              A: If you smoke, have a cough that won’t
                             inf lammation, and reduce mucus.                go away, and shortness of breath see
                                                                             your doctor. To figure out if you have
                             Long-acting beta 2 bronchodilators              COPD, doctors usually:
                             – Over time, these inhaled medi-
                                                                                Ask about your family and personal
                             cines help relieve symptoms. They
                                                                                health history.
                             are often combined with anti-
                             inf lammatory medicines                            Do a physical exam.
                          Staying away from triggers, taking your               Run some pulmonary function
                          medicine consistently, and regular visits             tests.
                          to the doctor will help you take control              Perform spirometry (speh-ROM-
                          of asthma.                                            eh-tree) testing. During this test, the
                                                                                doctor uses a machine called a
                      Q: I just found out I'm pregnant,                         spirometer to see how well you
                         should I still take my asthma                          breathe. This test measures how
                         medicines?                                             much air you can blow out of your
                      A: It is very important to call your doctor               lungs (lung volume). It also records
                          as soon as you find out you’re preg-                  how fast you can exhale it.
                          nant. As your doctor will explain, it is              Perform bronchodilator (brong-ko-
                          extremely important to manage your                    di-LA-tor) reversibility testing.
                          asthma symptoms when you are preg-                    During this test you will inhale a
            page 7
                          nant. Taking asthma medicines and                     medicine called a bronchodilator.

                                  N AT I O N A L W O M E N ’ S H E A LT H I N F O R M AT I O N C E N T E R
                               U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health
                                                           F R E Q U E N T LY A S K E D Q U E S T I O N S

                             Then the doctor uses a spirometer to               This vaccine reduces the risk of
                             measure how this medicine affects                  some kinds of pneumonia.
                             your breathing. Bronchodilators                    Pulmonary rehabilitation.
                             relax muscles around the airways                   Pulmonary rehabilitation is a pro-
                             making it easier to breathe.                       gram that helps people cope physi-
                          Your doctor may also suggest other                    cally and mentally with COPD. It
                          tests like chest x rays to make sure                  can include exercise, training to
TDD: 1-888-220-5446       something else is not causing your                    manage the disease, diet advice and
                          problems. X rays may allow the doctor                 counseling.
                          to see if another lung disease or heart               Oxygen therapy. Oxygen therapy
                          disease is causing your symptoms.                     helps women with severe COPD.
                                                                                Oxygen is inhaled through a mask
                      Q: How is chronic obstructive                             or a tube connected to a tank filled
                         pulmonary disease (COPD)                               with 100% oxygen. This extra oxy-
                         treated?                                               gen helps them breathe easier, sleep
                      A: The damage to the lungs in COPD                        better, and live longer.
                          cannot be repaired. But treatment can                 Surgery. Sometimes surgery can
                          relieve symptoms. The only thing that                 help people with severe COPD feel
                          can slow the progress of the disease is               better. Lung transplant surgery is
                          to stop smoking. So if you’re a smoker,               becoming more common for people
                          the single most important thing you                   with severe emphysema. Another
                          can do is stop smoking. This slows                    procedure called lung volume
                          down COPD and minimizes future                        reduction surgery is also used to
                          damage to the lungs.                                  treat a small subset of people with
                          Medicines can also help you feel better.              severe COPD of the emphysema
                          Common medicines used to treat                        type. In this surgery, a part of the
                          COPD include:                                         lung is removed.
                             Bronchodilators. These medicines
                             open up air passages in the lungs.         Q: How do I find out if I have lung
                             Inhaled steroids. These medicines             cancer?
                             relieve symptoms by reducing               A: Usually there are no warning signs of
                             inf lammation in the lungs.                     early lung cancer. But if there is a sign,
                                                                             it is usually a cough. By the time most
                             Antibiotics: These medicines are
                                                                             women have symptoms, the lung can-
                             used to clear up infections in the
                                                                             cer often has advanced to more serious
                      Sometimes doctors also recommend the fol-              Symptoms of lung cancer may include:
                      lowing for women with COPD:
                             Get a f lu shot every year.                        a cough that doesn’t go away or gets
                             Inf luenza (f lu) can cause serious                worse
                             problems for people with COPD.                     coughing up blood
                             Get the pneumococcal vaccine.                      frequent chest pain
            page 8

                                  N AT I O N A L W O M E N ’ S H E A LT H I N F O R M AT I O N C E N T E R
                               U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health
                                                             F R E Q U E N T LY A S K E D Q U E S T I O N S

                      ●	   hoarseness or wheezing                                doctors study a sample of mucus
                      ●	   frequent problems with bronchitis                     that is coughed up. The mucus
                           or pneumonia	                                         may contain cancer cells.
                      ●	   loss of appetite or weight loss                                                    Q:	 I smoke, should I get tested for
                      ●	   exhaustion
     1-800-994-9662                                                       lung cancer?
                      If you have any of these problems, call         A:	 Talk to your doctor. Some doctors sug-
TDD: 1-888-220-5446
                      your doctor as soon as possible. The                 gest testing smokers over 50 years of
                      doctor will ask about your personal and              age for lung cancer. But experts still are
                      family health history, smoking history,              not sure if routine testing (screening)
                      and exposure to harmful substances.                  saves or prolongs lives.
                      She will also do a physical exam and
                                                                           Testing for cancer before a person has
                      may suggest some tests.
                                                                           any symptoms is called screening.
                      Common tests for lung cancer include:                Screening tends to find cancers early
                      ●	   Chest x rays. Chest x rays allow                when it is easier to cure and treat.
                           doctors to “see” abnormal growths               Screening high-risk groups (like smok-
                           in the lungs.                                   ers) for lung cancer is a controversial
                      ●	   Computerized tomography
                           scans (CT scans). A growing                     Many studies show that using x rays to
                           number of doctors use CT scans to               screen smokers for lung cancer does not
                           diagnose lung cancer. CT scans are              save lives. For this reason, the National
                           more powerful than standard x rays.             Cancer Institute and the U.S. Preventive
                           CT images can reveal subtle signs of            Services Task Force (USPSTF) do not
                           cancer that don’t show up on x rays.            recommend screening for lung cancer. It
                           This boosts the chances of finding              is important to note that the USPSTF
                           cancer in its early, more treatable,            does not recommend against screening
                           stages.                                         either. More studies are needed to show
                                                                           the exact risks and benefits of screening
                      ●	   Biopsy. In this test, the doctor
                                                                           for lung cancer. Some groups do rec-
                           removes a small piece of lung tissue
                                                                           ommend screening in at-risk groups
                           and studies it under a microscope.
                                                                           including smokers over 45 years and
                           There are many ways to take a biop-
                                                                           people exposed to lung-damaging sub-
                           sy including:
                                                                           stances at work.
                           .	 Bronchoscopy is often used to
               Computerized tomography scans (CT
                              remove lung tissue for a biopsy.
            scans) show promise as a screening tool.
                              Doctors put a special tube called
           The National Cancer Institute is doing
                              a bronchoscope into the nose or
             an important study called the National
                              mouth and down through the
                  Lung Screening Trial (NLST) to
                              throat. They can see the lungs
              answer important questions about rou-
                              and remove a sample of tissue
               tine testing for lung cancer. This study
                              with this tube. 
                            will show if screening with CT scans
                           .	 Sputum Cytology is another way
              and/or chest x rays can save lives.
                              to do a lung biopsy. In this test,

            page 9

                                N AT I O N A L W O M E N ’ S H E A LT H I N F O R M AT I O N C E N T E R
                            U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health
                                                           F R E Q U E N T LY A S K E D Q U E S T I O N S

                      Q: How is lung cancer treated?                            your age,
                      A: Most lung cancer is hard to treat. The                 and overall health.
                          best way to fight lung cancer is to never
                                                                             Radiation therapy uses a machine to
                          start smoking or to stop smoking. If
                                                                             aim high-energy x rays at the tumor.        you need help to stop smoking, talk to
                                                                             This energy kills cancer cells. Radiation
                          your doctor. A government website all
     1-800-994-9662                                                          therapy can relieve pain and make a
                          about quitting smoking can also help
                                                                             person feel better.
TDD: 1-888-220-5446       you kick the habit.
                                                                             Chemotherapy uses medicine to kill
                          Lung cancer can be treated in a number
                                                                             cancer cells. Chemotherapy medicines
                          of different ways including a combina-
                                                                             can be injected into a vein or taken as a
                          tion of surgery, radiation, and
                          chemotherapy. Most of the time treat-
                          ment does not cure the cancer but stops            Surgery is used to remove tumors.
                          it from spreading and relieves symp-               To find out about research studies on
                          toms. Your specific treatment will                 new treatments for lung cancer, visit
                          depend on:                                         the website of the National Cancer
                             kind of lung cancer,                            Institute ( and click on
                                                                             “clinical trials.”
                             where the cancer is and if it has
                             spread to other parts of the body,

                       For more information...
                       You can find out more about lung disease by contacting the National Women’s Health
                       Information Center (NWHIC) at 1-800-994-9662 or the following organizations:

                       National Heart, Lung, and Blood                  National Institute of Allergy and
                       Institute                                        Infectious Diseases
                       Phone Number: (301) 592-8573                     Phone Number: (301) 496-5717
                       Internet Address:                                Internet Address:

                       American Lung Association                        Centers for Disease Control and
                       Phone Number: (800) 586 4872                     Prevention
                       Internet Address:         Phone Number: (800) CDC-INFO
                                                                        Internet Address:
                       National Cancer Institute
                       Phone Number: 1-800-4cancer
                       Internet Address:

           page 10

                                  N AT I O N A L W O M E N ’ S H E A LT H I N F O R M AT I O N C E N T E R
                               U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health
                                                       F R E Q U E N T LY A S K E D Q U E S T I O N S

                      All material contained in the FAQs is free of copyright restrictions, and may be copied,

                      reproduced, or duplicated without permission of the Office on Women’s Health in the

                      Department of Health and Human Services; citation of the source is appreciated.    Reviewed by:

     1-800-994-9662   Gail Weinmann, MD

TDD: 1-888-220-5446   Director, Airways Biology and Disease Program

                      National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

                      James Kiley, Ph.D.

                      Director, Division of Lung Diseases

                      National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

                      Hannah Peavy,M.D.

                      Medical Officer, Division of Lung Diseases

                      National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

                      March 2006

           page 11

                              N AT I O N A L W O M E N ’ S H E A LT H I N F O R M AT I O N C E N T E R
                           U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health

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