Lung Cancer: Not Just a Man’s Killer
Lung cancer has long been associated as a killer of men but now it has passed breast cancer as the number one killing cancer of women. The American Cancer Society states that women are 1.5 times more likely to get lung cancer than men. Studies also show that African American women are more likely to get lung cancer than white women.
While smoking is a leading cause of lung cancer to smokers, secondhand smoke also causes lung cancer and coronary heart disease to nonsmokers. There are about 20% of the women diagnosed with lung cancer who have never smoked (American Cancer Society). Some factors besides secondhand smoke includes: exposure to radon or asbestos, inhaling toxic chemicals or minerals, or just being genetically predisposed to getting it. However, the upside is that nonsmokers do generally respond positively to the treatments given for their cancer.
Lung cancer is caused by certain cells in the body malfunctioning and dividing abnormally. These cells end up producing excessive tissue that turns into a tumor. There are non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. Both types are treated differently.
So, how do you know if you may have lung cancer? Some signs include: labored breathing, wheezing, shortness of breath, excessive, persistent coughing, an increase in phlegm, a change in the phlegm’s color or bloody phlegm, pain in the back, chest, or shoulder area, and swelling in the face and neck. If you have any of these signs, see a doctor immediately.
If you are a smoker, your chances of getting lung cancer are greatly reduced when you quit smoking. The American Cancer Society states that in the last 30 years, the cure rate for lung cancer has doubled.
While the stakes are higher for women smokers, quitting today will lower your chances of getting lung cancer. However, if you should still get lung cancer, quitting smoking would greatly increase your survival rate. Be aware of changes you can make in your lifestyle and environment to help keep yourself safe from this disease.