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Lung Cancer Information

Lung cancer occurs when there is an unhealthy mutation of cells in the lungs. This overgrowth of cells can cause a variety of symptoms and make it more difficult to breathe. There are two basic types of lung cancer, small cell and non-small cell, and the type is diagnosed by looking at how the cancer cells look under a microscope. Non-small cell lung cancer is much more common compared to small cell lung cancer, and anyone can develop this serious health issue. The odds of getting lung cancer greatly increase if you smoke or work in an area where you may be exposed to certain toxins or chemicals over an extended period of time.

Statistics

According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer found in men and women. Prostate cancer is the most common in men, and breast cancer is the most common in women, but overall, approximately 13 percent of new cancers are some form of lung cancer. This type of cancer is the leading cause of death in both women and men each year, causing more than the total number of deaths as a result of colon, breast, and prostate cancers put together. There are more than 220,000 new cases of lung cancer every year, with most of them being diagnosed in people ages 65 and older. The odds of a man developing lung cancer in his lifetime are around 1 in 15, while the chances for a woman are around 1 in 17. This includes both smokers and non-smokers. Depending on the severity and the stage, some people can be cured of lung cancer: Around 430,000 people alive now have had a previous diagnosis of lung cancer.

Symptoms

In many cases, lung cancer goes undiagnosed for a long period of time due to mild early-stage symptoms that include a nagging cough, often though to be nothing more than a chest cold. If this cough gets worse over time, it could signal lung cancer. Other symptoms can include hoarseness when you speak, a constant feeling of pain in the chest, shortness of breath, coughing up blood, wheezing, and severe or frequent infections of the lungs like pneumonia or bronchitis. In its early stages, lung cancer does not often present symptoms. As the cancer progresses and spreads, patients may experience new symptoms like sudden weight loss, severe headaches or back pain, loss of appetite, and even bone fractures. If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, speak with your doctor right away and ask for a screening.

Risk Factors

Smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer and is responsible for approximately 90 percent of all cases. If you smoke, it's advised that you try to quit as soon as possible. Other causes of lung cancer can affect anyone in any walk of life. Exposure to radon, whether at home or in the workplace, is another common cause of lung cancer. People who work in places where they may be exposed to things like asbestos, cadmium, arsenic, petroleum, and other chemicals are also at risk. Even air pollution can contribute to new lung cancer cases. In some instances, lung cancer is genetic. If someone in your family had lung cancer, it's recommended that you remain vigilant and get tested often in order to catch it in the early stages.

Treatment

Depending on the type of lung cancer diagnosed and the stage or progression of the cancer, your doctor and health team will work together to determine the best method of treatment. Often, patients will receive a variety of treatments in order to best combat the disease. Surgery may be required in order to remove any tumors, followed by radiation and chemotherapy. Other forms of treatment include immunotherapy, a process that uses medication to activate the body's immune system. This type of treatment encourages the body's own cells and immune system to fight off cancer. Every patient is different, and many patients undergo a series of different treatments throughout the process in order to find the one that will work best.

Prevention

While lung cancer is common, there are some things you can do to help prevent it. First, if you smoke, quitting is the best prevention against lung cancer. If you don't smoke, be sure to avoid secondhand smoke whenever possible. Since radon is another common cause of lung cancer, test your home for this dangerous gas or purchase a radon detector. If you work in a field where exposure to chemicals is common, always follow the proper safety rules and wear masks and filters as required. A healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables and regular exercise are also some easy tools you can use to prevent not only lung cancer but many other forms of cancer as well.

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