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What Is Lung Cancer Most cancers are named after the part of the body where the cancer first starts Lung cancer begins in the lungs The lungs are two sponge-like organs in the chest The right lung has three sections called lobes The left lung has two lobes It is smaller because the heart takes up more room on that side of the body The lungs bring air in and out of the body taking in oxygen and getting rid of carbon dioxide gas a waste product The lining around the lungs called the pleura helps to protect the lungs and allows them to move during breathing The windpipe trachea brings air down into the lungs It divides into tubes called bronchi which divide into smaller branches called bronchioles At the end of these small branches are tiny air sacs known as alveoli Most lung cancers start in the lining of the bronchi but they can also begin in other areas such as the trachea bronchioles or alveoli Lung cancer often takes many years to develop Once the lung cancer occurs cancer cells can break away and spread to other parts of the body Lung cancer is a life-threatening disease because it often spreads in this way before it is found Imaging tests these tests use x-rays magnetic fields sound waves or radioactive substances to create pictures of the inside of the body Some of the imaging tests used to find lung cancer and to see where in the body it may have spread include x-rays CT scan computed tomography MRI magnetic resonance imaging PET positron emission tomography scans and bone scans Sputum cytology a sample of phlegm spit is looked at under a microscope to see if cancer cells are present Needle biopsy a needle is placed into the tumor to remove a piece of tissue The tissue
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