Lung Cancer Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

There are about 200,000 new cases of lung cancer every year in the United States. This makes it very important for you to stay informed about this disease. Learn about the causes, signs and treatment options for lung cancer.

What is Lung Cancer?

Did you know that your body has millions of tiny cells? Think of the cells as workers in a factory--each cell has a job that makes your body work. Some cells work to help you breathe, some cells work to help you think. The cells are constantly splitting and creating new cells so that the jobs always get done.

Sometimes, cells get their jobs mixed up and create cells that hurt our bodies. When this happens, a tumor is formed. Tumors are masses that grow inside our bodies. Some tumors are not dangerous, while others are very harmful to us. The harmful tumors can grow and spread in our bodies. This is known as cancer. If the harmful tumor grows in our lungs, this is called lung cancer.

Lung cancer is a very serious disease. While there are many different ways that doctors can treat it, this is a disease that people can die from. However, there are some things that you can do to avoid getting lung cancer.

What Causes Lung Cancer?

Anyone can get lung cancer at any time, but there are some things that increase the chance of getting it. The most common cause is smoking tobacco. Tobacco is found in cigarettes, pipes and cigars. About 90% of lung cancer cases are caused by smoking.

A person can also develop lung cancer if they are exposed to secondhand smoke. This happens when someone lives with a smoker and is exposed to the smoke all the time.

Smoking is the most common cause of lung cancer.

Smoking is not the only reason why someone might get lung cancer. Another leading cause is exposure to asbestos or radon, which are both dangerous substances found in nature.

Lung cancer can also develop due to genetic reasons. If someone's parent, grandparent or sibling gets lung cancer, their family members have an increased chance of getting it as well.

What are the Signs of Lung Cancer?

Many cases of lung cancer do not show signs until the cancer has spread, but it is important to know the early signs so that you can take proper steps to treat it as soon as possible. Signs include, but are not limited to, hoarse voice, trouble swallowing, wheezing, headache, chest pain and cough. If you begin to develop any of these, it is important that you go see a doctor soon.

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