Lung Cancer – Early Detection is Important

Lung Cancer – Early Detection is Important

Lung cancer was a relatively rare disease at the beginning of the century, but is now the most common cancer in the world. Different factors are suspected to be related to this disease, such as exposition to asbestos or to radon, or as food or genetic factors. None of them, however, are as important as tobacco in the incidence and mortality of lung cancer. A considerable increase in tobacco consumption in industrialized countries over the past century has been observed.

Now it is the second most common cancer, accounting for about one out of six malignancies in men and one out of ten in women. And all the researches points to smoking as the cause. As one specialist in the field reports, “how long will it takes to get cancer depends on how many cigarettes you smoke a day.” However, studies shows that quitting smoking does lower the risk.

Lung cancers are mainly of two types: small-cell-lung-cancer – also known as oat cell cancer, since it resembles oat grains and non-small-cell-lung-cancer. The aggressiveness of the disease and treatment option, depend on the type of cancer diagnosed. Many types of lung cancer grow & spread very quickly and since the lungs are vital organs, hence it is critically important to detect & treat the same – usually by surgery for removal of tumor.

Men between 55 and 65 years of age and women of about 70 years are at a greater risk of having lung cancer. Smokers have 11 to 18 times greater risk of developing lung cancer than non-smokers. Women smokers have 5 to 15 times greater risk than non-smoking women. The risk increases with the number of cigarettes smoked per day and the number of years the person has smoked. The risk of lung cancer for non smokers who are exposed to smoke in the environment is as much as 35 percent higher than that of those who are not.

Signs and Symptoms

In many cases, symptoms do not appear until the cancer is at its peak stage. However, by the time a tumor does cause changes within the lungs.
Signs are:

· Coughing with blood in sputum;
· Chest, arm or shoulder pain;
· Loss of appetite;
· Weight loss;
· Recurring pneumonia ;
· SOB (shortness of breath);
· Bone pain;
· Hoarseness;
· Fatigue;
· Swelling of neck or face;
· Headaches.

Early detection

There are no routine screening tests for lung cancer. Detection at an early stage is possible with sputum analysis and some doctors order these tests, especially for people who smoke. However there is no evidence that such attempts at lung cancer screening have a positive impact on treatments.

Considering the observed trends in lung cancer mortality, it is crucial for public health authorities and stakeholders to have a quantification of lung cancer mortality in the years to come.

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