Lung Cancer vs. Bronchitis

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Difference between Lung Cancer and Bronchitis

Bronchitis is one of the most debilitating diseases known to man, although its effects pale in comparison to those caused by lung cancer. While lung cancer is definitely the more life threatening of the two, there may be a connection between both diseases, as you will see in this comparison article.

Lung Cancer
Bronchitis

Definition

Lung cancer is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells in the tissues of the lungs. This may result in metastasis, which is defined as the spreading of the disease to the nearby tissue and culminating in an eventual infiltration into the lungs. Most primary lung cancers are classified as carcinomas and they are often derived from the epithelial cells.

Bronchitis is a condition in which the mucous membranes of the bronchi–or the air passages that carry air from the trachea to the lungs–become inflamed. The condition can be described as acute or chronic, with each category having its own distinct etiologies, pathologies, and treatments.

Symptoms

Some of the most common symptoms of lung cancer are shortness of breath, coughing up blood, persistent coughing, changes in the coughing pattern, wheezing, chest or abdominal pain, weight loss, fatigue, loss of appetite, a hoarse voice, and difficulty swallowing.

Bronchitis for its part is typically identified with symptoms such as the rapid onset of a cough, which may or may not be accompanied by sputum. The condition is also marked by the expelling of mucus, and it often occurs along with a bad cold or the flu.

Causes

One of the major causes of lung cancer is the ingestion of carcinogens, most often from cigarette smoke. The disease may also be caused by ionizing radiation or a viral infection. These factors cause changes in the DNA of the lung tissue, particularly in the bronchi. As the tissue progressively becomes more and more damaged, the cancer may begin to form. Obviously, smoking–particularly of cigarettes–is the major contributing factor to lung cancer. In fact, it is thought that as many as 87% of lung cancer cases in the United States are caused by smoking.

Bronchitis–particularly the acute variety–is typically caused by a virus that infects the bronchial epithelium. This causes the inflammation of the tissues and an increase in mucus secretion. The common symptom of the condition–coughing–is actually meant to expel the mucus from the lungs. It is thought that viral infections cause as many as 90% of all bronchitis cases, with the rest being caused by bacteria.

Similarities and Differences

Lung cancer

  • Characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells in the tissues of the lungs
  • May result in metastasis, which is defined as the spreading of the disease to the nearby tissue
  • Symptoms of include shortness of breath, coughing up blood, persistent coughing, a change in the coughing pattern, and wheezing

Bronchitis

  • A condition in which the mucous membranes of the bronchi become inflamed
  • Can be described as acute or chronic
  • Symptoms include the rapid onset of a cough

Which symptoms are easier to identify?
  • Lung Cancer
  • Bronchitis
 
 

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