Lung cancer and veterans

Veterans often develop cancer as a result of exposure to hazardous materials – even when the exposure happened decades ago. The herbicide Agent Orange was used in Vietnam and it is acknowledged to cause prostate and respiratory cancers. The Department of Veterans Affairs even states that any respiratory cancer in a veterans known to have served in an Agent Orange area automatically qualifies for benefits.

Lung cancer is also caused by exposure to asbestos, depleted uranium, and other materials that many servicemen encountered. Contrary to popular thinking, there are many causes of lung cancer beside tobacco.

There are two main types of lung cancer, small-cell lung cancer and non-small-cell lung cancer. The types have different staging classifications.

About 10 to 15 percent of lung cancers are small-cell. Small-cell lung cancer is categorized as either limited stage or extensive stage. In the limited stage, the cancer is found in one lung and the surrounding lymph nodes in that lung only. In the extensive stage, the cancer has spread into both lungs or other organs in the body.

Small-cell lung cancer tends to progress from the limited to the extensive stage fairly early, forming large tumors and entering other organs rather quickly. For this reason, surgery is often not an option for treatment for small-cell lung cancer. However, chemotherapy is often employed as a treatment.

Non-small-cell lung cancer makes up over 80 percent of all lung cancers. Within non-small-cell lung cancer are the subtypes adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.

Non-small-cell lung cancer is categorized into four stages. The higher the number, the more advanced the cancer. Most lung cancers are diagnosed in Stage 3 or Stage 4.

Non-small-cell lung cancer can be treated by surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Doctors decide on a treatment plan based on the stage of the cancer, and the age and overall health of the patient.

If you think you could get lung cancer, be sure to get screened. The earlier the cancer is diagnosed, the better your chances will be.

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