Lung Cancer – Smoke That Cigarette!
Lung cancer is a disease of uncontrolled cell growth in tissues of the lung. It is one of the most common cancers in the United States, accounting for about 15 percent of all cases, or 170,000 new cases each year. It is also the worst cancer killer in America, taking more lives each year than breast, prostate and colorectal cancers combined, according to the American Cancer Society. It is the leading cause of cancer deaths in US women and is responsible for as many deaths as breast and all gynecological cancers combined.
Smoking, radon, and second hand smoke are the leading causes. Smoking causes an estimated 160,000* deaths in the US. Smoking leads to 85 percent to 90 percent of all lung cancers. Smoking affects non-smokers by exposing them to second hand smoke. If a person stops smoking, this chance steadily decreases as damage to the lungs is repaired and contaminant particles are gradually removed.
Radon is a colorless and odorless gas generated by the breakdown of radioactive radium, which in turn is the decay product of uranium, found in the earth’s crust. Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, according to EPA estimates. Radon causes between 15,000 and 22,000 deaths each year in the United States — 12 percent of all lung cancer deaths are linked to radon.
Risk factors include the following: Smoking cigarettes or cigars, now or in the past. Not all cases are due to smoking, but the role of passive smoking is increasingly being recognized as a risk factor, leading to policy interventions to decrease undesired exposure of non-smokers to others’ tobacco smoke. A smoker who is also exposed to radon has a much higher risk. The more cigarettes you smoke per day and the earlier you started smoking, the greater your risk of lung cancer. High levels of pollution, radiation and asbestos exposure may also increase risk.
Symptoms include: Chronic cough, Hoarseness, Coughing up blood, Weight loss & loss of appetite, Shortness of breath, Fever without a known reason, Wheezing, Repeated bouts of bronchitis or pneumonia and Chest pain. About 10% of people do not have symptoms at diagnosis; these cancers are incidentally found on routine chest x-rays. In fact, lung cancer can spread outside the lungs without causing any symptoms.
Treatment depends on the cancer’s specific cell type, how far it has spread, and the patient’s performance status. It also depends on the stage, or how advanced it is. Treatment choices can be discussed with a doctor. It may include chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. In recent years, various molecular targeted therapies have been developed as treatments.
Lung cancer is the second most commonly occurring form of cancer in most western countries, and it is the leading cancer-related cause of death. It is the most common cause of cancer deaths in both men and women, accounting for nearly a third of cancer deaths annually in the United States. It has become the subject of a great amount of research. Although the rate of men dying from it is declining in western countries, it is actually increasing for women due to the increased takeup of smoking by this group. We already know that the best way to prevent it is to quit (or never start) smoking. Three to five years after quitting, the risk of getting the disease is reduced by half.