Lung Cancer Awareness

 

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Lung Cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, among both men and women, and most of these deaths are preventable.   That’s because cigarette smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. In fact, about 90 percent (that’s 9 out of every 10) of all lung cancers are caused by smoking. A key reason for the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer is the fact that tobacco smoke contains more than 3,500 chemicals, 40 0f which are cancer-causing, or carcinogens. Cigarettes also contain more than 30 toxic metals such as nickel, cadmium, and radioactive substances.

While lung cancer used to be primarily a disease of men, as more women became smokers, more women developed lung cancer, as compared to men. Smoking is also associated with a number of other tobacco related disease such as emphysema, heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers.

Risk Factors for Lung Cancer

  • Cigarette Smoking
  • Secondhand smoking (also called passive smoking), which results from being in the environment of smokers, even if one is a non-smoker.
  • Being African-American because they are at a higher risk of developing lung cancer.
  • Asbestos exposure, which is associated with an increased risk of a type of lung cancer called mesothelioma.
  • Other industrial carcinogens (cancer causing substances).
  • Radon gas – an odorless gas that’s released into the air from the breakdown of uranium in the soil and water. It’s a good idea to have the home checked for radon, especially if one lives in an area where high radon levels often occur.

Symptoms of Lung Cancer

By the time a person with lung cancer develops symptoms, the cancer is often advanced.

However, the symptoms of lung cancer are:

  • Chronic cough
  • Hoarseness
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever of unknown cause
  • Wheezing
  • Repeated periods of bronchitis or pneumonia
  • Chest pain

Although the above symptoms may be caused by other conditions, anyone who develops one or more of them should see his/her doctor without delay.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis of Lung Cancer

  1. Examination of the sputum for cancer cells;
  2. Chest X-ray
  3. CT (‘cat’) scan
  4. Bronchoscopy, where a small tube is inserted down the throat to look at the airways, or do a biopsy.

Treatment of Lung Cancer

 

There is a variety of treatments for lung cancer, and they may be used alone or in some combination.  Treatments include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Chemotherapy

Difference between Primary & Secondary Lung Cancer

Primary lung cancer starts in the lung and is almost always due to cigarette smoking. With secondary lung cancer, the cancer spreads from other areas of the body, which is called metastasis. Cancers which spread to the lung include cancer of the breast, colon, prostate, testicle, kidney, thyroid and bone. However, in these cancers, they are still called by the name of the organ or area where it started, instead of lung cancer.

Want to Quit Smoking?  Check out Health Power’s Tip sheets.  Other information related to lung cancer ans smoking cessation are provided by the American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, and American Lung Association.

Remember the Health Power motto: Knowledge + Action = Power!

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