Lung Cancer- Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

“Only 15% of lung cancers are caught at an early stage. However, the survival rate drops to 3.5%.”

Think twice before taking that puff of cigarette smoke. Smoking cigarettes is the number one risk factor for developing lung cancer. Almost 80 to 90% of lung cancer deaths in the United States have been linked to tobacco products like cigars, pipes and cigarettes.

What Is Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer is a chronic illness that is characterized by abnormal cell growth in the tissues of the lung. In other words, it is the development of a tumour that forms in the cell lining air passages of the lungs.

Lung cancer is a life-threatening disease that can reduce life expectancy significantly. It is not easy to detect lung cancer in the early stages; that is why medical experts urge people who are at a high risk of developing lung cancer to get regular healthcare checkups done at least twice a year.

If one decides to quit smoking in time, the chances of getting lung cancer are also reduced.

What are the Symptoms of Lung Cancer?

The signs and symptoms of lung cancer do not appear until the disease has progressed further. Therefore, to avoid such a chronic health stage, one needs to be cautious enough of getting medical checkups done.

Some of the main symptoms of lung cancer are as follows.

  • Trouble swallowing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hoarseness
  • Loss of weight for no reason
  • Coughing up blood
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Swelling in the lymph nodes
  • Lingering cough that gets worse
  • Frequent chest infections like pneumonia or bronchitis

Such symptoms can also be a sign of other underlying medical conditions; it is crucial to get diagnosed at the earliest to know the exact cause.

For example, people who experience lung cancer are at severe risk of developing pleural effusion (fluid in the chest). Cancer can spread to other parts of the body if one doesn’t receive the necessary treatment in time (metastasizes).

One should try to live a healthy lifestyle, quit smoking while there is a chance, or face adverse health complications like lung cancer.

How to Prevent Lung Cancer?

A chronic illness like lung cancer occurs due to a number of biological and lifestyle factors. The majority of the cases occur due to unhealthy lifestyle choices like smoking cigarettes or other tobacco products.

People who do not smoke at all can also develop this disease if there is a presence of genetic linkage to it. Some of how lung cancer can be prevented or the risk of its occurrence reduced are as follows.

  • Quit smoking: One should quit smoking while there is still a chance to do so. Smoking has widely been linked with the majority of lung cancer cases. Exposure to harmful chemicals by smoking damages the DNA of the cells and makes it harder for the body to repair; this process is what leads to lung cancer. If one does not smoke.
  • Avoid secondhand smoke: Once you quit smoking, the risk of facing lung cancer does not immediately turn to zero. A person who has never smoked in their life is still exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work if they are surrounded by people who are smokers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that secondhand smoke causes more than 7300 lung cancer deaths among the United states nonsmokers each year.
  • Exposure to Radon: Radon is defined as a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer in people. It occurs from the natural decay of uranium that is found nearly in all fossils.It can build up through the cracks and holes in the foundation of a house. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention suggests that Radon is the second most cause of lung cancer cases in the United States after smoking.Exposure to Radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year. Around 2,900 of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked.If one lives in a geographical area where Radon is a problem, it is crucial to get it fixed before it causes adverse health complications.
  • Protection From Chemicals: If the nature of your employment puts you at risk of being exposed to harmful carcinogens like asbestos, nickel, chloride, and benzene, you must take all the necessary precautions.The risk of lung damage from your workplace carcinogens increases if you smoke as well. The employer should provide protective gear to the workers in such a situation.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables are a significant addition to an anti-cancer diet.In addition, some researchers have said that nutrients like beta carotene and vitamin A that are found in food like sweet potatoes, carrots, and cantaloupe might help reduce the risk or prevent lung cancer from occurring.
  • Exercise daily: Exercising helps strengthen the muscles and makes our heart stronger, which results in increased oxygen capacity. Lung cancer patients are often advised to do aerobic exercises like walking, cycling or any other activity that they enjoy.
  • Get Screened: It is often recommended that people who smoke cigarettes or have a family history of lung cancer get medically checked up for the disease at least once or twice a year.Such screening, though, won’t help prevent lung cancer but can reduce the risk of early death to some extent.

Also Read: Chemotherapy: A Miraculous Cancer Treatment That Helps Save Lives

BOTTOM LINE:

Deciding to quit smoking will lower the risk of getting lung cancer but never eradicate it. There would always be a possibility of the disease from other factors apart from cigarette smoking.

However, developing healthy living habits can make life comfortable and long for an individual. Choosing to quit smoking can be the first step that one might take to live a healthy lifestyle.

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Julain Carter is mental health expert for Goodrxmedicine.com. He is an experienced clinical mental health counsellor with recognition in cognitive behavioural therapy. Julian’s sharp behavioural observations reflect in both his personal and professional life.