What Is the Difference Between Lung Cancer and a Lung Infection?


Quick Answer

Lung cancer is the result of a serious malignant growth, while infections are generally caused by invasive microbes in the lower respiratory tract, according to Patient.co.uk. Though they have different causes, lung cancer can greatly increase the likelihood of secondary infections.

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Full Answer

Lung cancer is the term applied to a family of related malignant illnesses which afflict the lungs and sometimes spread to other tissues of the body. Smoking is a common cause of lung cancer, as is exposure to environmental smoke. Other causes include radon gas, airborne asbestos, inhaled mineral dust and radiation exposure, according to WebMD. The specific course of treatment is determined by the type of cancer, its progress and the presence of other complicating factors in the patient's overall health.

Lung infections are not a form of cancer. Pneumonia, one of the most serious forms of lung infection, is often caused by the presence of harmful bacteria in the lung's delicate tissues. Lung infections may also be caused by viruses, fungi or parasites, according to the American Lung Association. Treatment for lung infections sometimes involves antibiotics, which are ineffective against lung cancer, and rest. Unlike cancer, lung infections can clear up over time, though any lung disease should be considered serious enough for medical attention.

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