Lung cancer is a type of cancer that affects the lungs. The lungs are a pair of organs in the chest responsible for breathing. Cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells grow out of control.
Lung cancer can be either a small cell or a non-small cell. Small cell is less common and tends to grow and spread more quickly than non-small cancer. Non-small cell is the most common type of lung cancer.
Causes of Lung Cancer
Smoking has been linked to several health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and emphysema. However, lung cancer is one of the most serious risks associated with smoking. According to the American Cancer Society, smoking accounts for about 90% of all lung cancer cases. The toxins in tobacco smoke damage the cells in the lungs, which can lead to the formation of tumors. The risk of this type of cancer increases with the number of cigarettes smoked daily and the years a person has been smoking.
Quitting smoking reduces the risk of developing lung cancer, even for those who have already been diagnosed with the disease. Therefore, it is important for smokers to understand the risks and take steps to quit.
- Exposure to secondhand smoke
Secondhand smoke is a complex mixture of chemicals released into the air when tobacco is burned. These chemicals include harmful toxins like carbon monoxide and arsenic. Secondhand smoke increases the risk of this type of cancer and other respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Studies have shown that non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to develop lung cancer.
The best way to protect yourself from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke is to avoid exposure altogether. If you must be around smokers, ensure to ventilate the area and stay away from the source of the smoke. These precautions can help protect yourself and your loved ones from secondhand smoke.
- Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy is a treatment for cancer that uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. While it can be an effective treatment, radiation therapy can also cause lung cancer. The radiation damages the DNA of healthy cells, which can lead to the formation of tumors.
In addition, radiation therapy can cause inflammation and scarring in the lungs, making them more susceptible to cancer. For these reasons, it is important for patients to discuss the risks and benefits of radiation therapy with their doctor before starting treatment.
- Family history of lung cancer
One of the major risk factors for developing this type of cancer is having a family history of the disease. While the exact cause of lung cancer is not known, studies have shown that there is a genetic component to the disease. Lung cancer tends to run in families, and people with a history of the disease are more likely to develop it themselves. This is thought to be due to mutations in genes involved in the development and growth of lung cancer cells.
While having a family history of this type of cancer is a major risk factor, it is not the only one. Other risk factors include smoking, secondhand smoke exposure, and certain chemicals and pollutants. However, family history is considered one of the most important risk factors for developing lung cancer.
Symptoms of Lung Cancer
- Persistent cough
A persistent cough is one of the symptoms of lung cancer. The cough may be dry or produce phlegm, and it may be accompanied by shortness of breath, wheezing, or chest pain. A doctor should evaluate a cough that does not go away or worsens over time. Other symptoms of this type of cancer may include fatigue, weight loss, and coughing up blood. If you experience any of these symptoms, you must see a doctor for a diagnosis. Early detection is key to the successful treatment of lung cancer.
- Shortness of breath
Shortness of breath, also called dyspnea, is a feeling of difficult or uncomfortable breathing. Though shortness of breath can be normal during strenuous activity, it can also signify a serious medical condition, such as lung cancer. In addition to dyspnea, other symptoms of lung cancer may include a cough that does not go away, coughing up blood, chest pain, and weight loss. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you must see a doctor for a diagnosis. Early detection is critical for the successful treatment of this type of cancer. So if you are having difficulty breathing, don’t wait to see a doctor – seek medical attention immediately.
- Weight loss
One of the key symptoms of lung cancer is weight loss. This is most often caused by cancer, leading to decreased appetite and difficulty digesting food. However, weight loss can also be caused by the treatments used to fight cancer, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Regardless of the cause, weight loss can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. It can lead to fatigue, muscle weakness, and an increased risk of infection. For these reasons, it is important for people with lung cancer to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Many patients can significantly improve their symptoms and quality of life with early diagnosis and treatment.
How to Prevent Lung Cancer?
Fortunately, there are steps that everyone can take to reduce their risk of developing this type of cancer.
Quitting smoking is the single most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of lung cancer. If you currently smoke, quitting is the best way to prevent this type of cancer. It’s also important to avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. If you live with someone who smokes, ask them to smoke outside.
Additionally, it’s important to test your home for radon gas and take steps to reduce your exposure if it is present. If you work with asbestos or other hazardous materials, follow all safety protocols to protect yourself from exposure.
Finally, try to limit your exposure to air pollution as much as possible. Taking these steps can help you protect yourself from developing this type of cancer.
Kick Nicotine Out of Your Life Today!
Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in men and women and the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. It has been linked to the use of tobacco.
BCOM offers a free virtual Tobacco Cessation Program if you’re ready to quit smoking. This program will provide you with information about the effects of tobacco use and the benefits of quitting so that you can develop your quit plan. With determination and support, you can quit tobacco use for good and enjoy a healthier life.
So if you’re ready to kick nicotine out of your life, sign up for our virtual Tobacco Cessation Program today!