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A pulmonary neoplasm is an abnormal growth in the lung, commonly known as a tumor. Neoplastic growths are the product of unchecked cellular reproduction and may be either benign or malignant. Treatment for this condition is dependent on several things, including the location and staging of the growth.
There is no identified reason for why pulmonary neoplasms form. Environmental and occupational exposure to carcinogenic, or cancer-causing, agents, including asbestos, can contribute to tumor formation. Generally, this condition is associated with tobacco use.
Smokers carry the most significant risk of getting a pulmonary neoplasm. According to the American Cancer Society, the leading cause of cancer deaths are malignancies of the lung. Prognosis depends on the maturity of the tumor at the time of diagnosis. Even with treatment, most cases of lung cancer carry a survival rate of less than five years.
Imaging tests are used to detect this condition and a biopsy will either confirm or discount malignancy. Individuals with a suspected neoplastic growth undergo imaging tests to determine the location and size of the tumor. Once it’s located, a sample of the abnormal tissue is obtained for laboratory analysis. If the growth is malignant, additional tests are performed to determine the staging, or maturity, of the pulmonary neoplasm.
A growth that remains confined to its area of origin is classified as a carcinoma in situ and is given a designation of stage one. Malignant neoplastic growths that have become invasive to surrounding tissue or lymph nodes may be given a staging of two or three depending on the maturity of the tumor. If the neoplasm has spread beyond the lungs to other organs, it is considered stage four.
It is possible to have a lung neoplasm and remain asymptomatic, meaning you do not show any signs of illness. Individuals with a pulmonary neoplasm may become easily winded with little to no exertion. Some develop a persistent cough, wheezing and chest discomfort. As one's symptoms progress, the person may demonstrate unintended weight loss, persistent hoarseness or diminished stamina. If symptoms are ignored, one may expel blood when coughing or experience chronic shortness of breath resulting from fluid buildup in the lung.
Treatment for this condition can range from surgery to remove the tumor to symptom management. Surgery may involve removing a carcinoma in situ or require the partial or total removal of the affected lung. If surgery is performed, follow-up anticancer therapies are usually given, including chemo and radiation. Individuals whose lung neoplasm has matured to stage four may bypass surgery and opt for drug therapy designed to ease symptoms.