Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women by a large margin. With November being Lung Cancer Awareness Month, let’s take a closer look at this serious disease.
Understanding Lung Cancer
It’s vital to understand this deadly type of cancer and take measures to prevent it. Even non smokers aren’t necessarily protected. Learn more with the following guide:
1) Lung Cancer at a Glance
Lung cancer is second only to breast cancer in prevalence, but it’s by far the deadliest form of cancer you could get. More people die from lung cancer each year than breast, colon, and prostate cancers combined, and it has the lowest 5-year survival rate.. 1 out of every 15 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetime. If caught early, it is treatable, however most cases aren’t caught until they’re already very advanced.
2) Who’s At Risk?
Up to 85% of lung cancer cases are thought to be caused by smoking but healthy non-smokers can get it as well. Those at the greatest risk are heavy smokers or those who have smoked one or more packs a day for 30 years, particularly those between 55 and 80. Next come current smokers or ex-smokers who quit within the last 15 years. Exposure to secondhand smoke increases a non-smoker’s risk of lung cancer. If you have a family history of lung cancer, you are also more at risk. This risk multiplies when you add any of the other factors.
3) How Can I Spot It?
The lungs have very few pain receptors, so you often will not experience symptoms until it has already metastasized. Symptoms vary based on type, location, and size of tumor. Often when symptoms occur, they’re mistaken for other common illnesses. Symptoms of early stage, non-metastasized lung cancer include coughing, blood in sputum, shortness of breath, wheezing, chest pain, fatigue, and pneumonia.
Symptoms of locally advanced lung cancer include pain when swallowing, hoarseness, high pitched sound comparable to wheezing, and excess fluid in lung or heart. It can also cause other symptoms in your body such as weight loss, low appetite, weakness, hypercalcemia, clubbing of fingers, and anemia.
4) Can It Be Prevented?
While there is no definitive way to prevent lung cancer altogether, you can take measures to lower your risk. Never smoke or quit smoking if you already do is the best step toward prevention. You will also want to avoid exposure to secondhand smoke, radon, asbestos, and air pollution. Maintaining a healthy weight is also conducive to preventing cancer. To that end, exercise regularly and eat a healthy, balanced diet.
5) How Can I Stop Smoking?
Once diagnosed, your prognosis is always better as an ex-smoker than a current smoker. About 90% who try to quit, try to stop smoking cold turkey, however only 4% to 7% are successful without help. Other methods you can try include behavioral therapy, nicotine replacement therapy, and medications. The best place to start is by scheduling an appointment with your doctor to create a plan that will work for you. Some doctor offices even have an in-house smoking cessation program.
Live Longer with Healthy Lungs
Your lungs are instrumental in providing the oxygen your body needs to function optimally. The oxygen you breathe in is transported to every cell and organ through the bloodstream. Compromising your lungs is detrimental to all of your body, regardless of whether or not you get lung cancer. If you do get lung cancer, it will likely be fatal. In short, choose a long and healthy life- quit smoking now