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Home > Asbestos related diseases > Lung cancer > Non-small cell lung cancer > Adenocarcinoma


Another type of non-small cell lung cancer is adenocarcinoma of the lung.

The disease takes the lives of more than 160,000 Americans each year, so we can say that today more men and women die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer. In the United States, adenocarcinoma is the most common form of lung cancer.

As usual smoking tobacco products is the main factor of the development of adenocarcinoma. But nonsmokers are also are subjected to this disease.

"Adeno-" means "gland." In general, glands excrete endocrine or exocrine. Exocrine glands secrete substances, like mucus and sweat that go outside of the body. Endocrine glands secrete substances like hormones that go into the bloodstream.

Carcinoma is a malignant tumor that can be found in epithelial tissue.

So adenocarcinoma means a malignant tumor in a gland.

The development of adenocarcinoma is explained by the growth of cancerous cells. These cells form a tumor multiplying out of control. The tumor can destroy parts of the lung and what is more important tumor's abnormal cells can metastasize to other parts of the body such as brain.

Peculiarity of the adenocarcinoma is that it responds to treatment much better than other lung cancers.

Adenocarcinoma is the most usual kind of lung cancer that can be found mostly in smokers but non smokers can also be influenced by this disease. This form of cancer can often be found in women and people younger than 45.

Adenoma is usually a predecessor of all adenocarcinomas. In general, cancer can develop from quite a big adenoma. If the diameter of a polyp is larger than two centimeters it has a very big chance (40%) to become cancerous.

The development of the adenocarcinomas usually starts as a non-cancerous polyp (adenoma) and later as cancer so by the time colorectal cancer is diagnosed it has often been growing for several years. Interestingly one of four people has polyps by age 50.

There are two types of adenocarcinoma: mucinous adenocarcinoma and signet ring cell adenocarcinoma. Mucinous adenocarcinoma is called so because of much mucus that is contained in its cells. Signet ring cell adenocarcinoma got its name for the way its cells look under a microscope.

Adenocarcinoma typically involves the periphery of the lung, so early symptoms are fewer, that's why it can be difficult to detect. Main markers of the disease may include shortness of breath, painful breathing, persistent cough and wheezing. Commonly by the time any symptoms develop lung adenocarcinoma has already metastasized. After this moment the survival rarely exceeds five years.

Living in an urban region, lung scarring from an earlier medical condition or injury, exposure to asbestos or radon, and working in certain high-risk manufacturing jobs can increase the likelihood of developing lung adenocarcinoma. But the main factor is still cigarette smoke. Having a close relative with lung cancer increases the chance of development adenocarcinoma so it can mean that this disease also has a genetic component. However no one yet knows exactly what causes cancer. And nowadays many people who have no known risk factors are diagnosed with the disease.

Risk factors:

- Smoke cigarettes and breathe of cigarette smoke - the chance to develop adenocarcinoma in smokers is 13 times greater than in nonsmokers. We can say that smoking is substantially more significant than all the following risk factors combined. There is also a big risk to develop adenocarcinoma for those who inhale the cigarette fumes.

- Asbestos exposure - Asbestos can be find in tiles for floors and ceilings, automobile brake linings, home insulation, fireproofing etc. Asbestos fibers can damage lungs and thus cause lung cancer. The group of risk includes workers who are exposed to asbestos on the job and heir family or people who live with them.

- Radon exposure - Radon odorless and colorless radioactive gas. It can contaminate drinking water by seeping into the lower floors of homes and public buildings. Several researches has shown that radon exposure can increase rates of lung cancer in people exposed to higher levels of radon and in smokers. It is also the second leading cause of lung cancer.

- other carcinogens in the workplace - For example vinyl chloride, uranium, coal products, arsenic, nickel chromates, mustard gas, gasoline, chloromethyl ethers, high levels of talc dust and diesel exhaust.


The main symptoms of adenocarcinoma are:

  • Cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Discomfort during breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Fever and a mucus-producing cough
  • Discomfort during swallowing
  • Hoarseness
  • Weight loss and poor appetite
  • Other symptoms, if cancer has spread to the brain, bones or elsewhere


The overall health of the patient and the stage of the cancer are the main indices in disease prediction. The only way to cure cancer is to expose patients to radiation therapy and surgery. Only 17% of people with adenocarcinoma survive more than 5 years after diagnosis because many lung cancers are diagnosed at a very late stage.

Adenocarcinoma is the most common form of non-small cell lung cancer. It causes about forty percent of all lung cancer. These facts are especially true with women. Bronchioalveolar adenocarcinoma is a type of adenocarcinoma when tumor develops in the lung's air sacs.

Most common treatments of non-small cell lung cancer like adenocarcinoma are surgery, which is the most common treatment, and radiation therapy and chemotherapy that can also be used to slow the progress of the adenocarcinoma and to manage adenocarcinoma symptoms.

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