To mark Lung Cancer Awareness Month 2017, we have put together five essential facts you need to know about lung cancer - whether you are being treated for it, are concerned about your risk of developing it, or have a friend or family member fighting this disease.
Fact #1 – lung cancer doesn’t just develop in your lungs
Although it’s called lung cancer, some patients will actually be affected by tumors in the windpipe or airway instead of, or as well as, your lungs.
Fact #2 – only 16% of lung cancer patients are diagnosed at an early stage
Sadly, lung cancer kills more people than any other type of cancer, simply because of the length of time it takes to get an accurate diagnosis. One reason for this delay is that the symptoms of lung cancer can often be dismissed as other illnesses such as flu or asthma.
Initial symptoms include:
- A persistent cough
- Shortness of breath
- Chest or shoulder pain
- Coughing up blood
If you have any combination of these symptoms see your doctor immediately, as early diagnosis will significantly increase your chance of recovery.
Fact #3 – smoking is the biggest cause of lung cancer
This may come as little surprise, but smoking accounts for up to 80% of lung cancer deaths in women, and 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men.
However, although smoking is by far the most common cause of the disease, it is possible to develop lung cancer as a non-smoker. This is usually due to environmental exposure to things like air pollution, second hand smoke and inhaling carcinogenic toxins found in products such as certain cleaning products.
Fact #4 – the older you get, the greater your chance of getting lung cancer
Age can greatly influence your chance of being diagnosed with lung cancer. According to Cancer Research data, lung cancer affects:
- 27 in every 100,000 men aged 50 and under, and 26 in every 100,000 women
- 875 in every 100,000 men aged 50-70, and 1,142 in every 100,000 women
- 2,231 in every 100,000 men aged 71 and above, and 1,302 in every 100,000 women
However, that’s not to say you’re immune from lung cancer just because you are young; if you experience any combination of the symptoms we mentioned above, consult your doctor immediately.
Fact #5 – it’s possible to take on lung cancer and win
Although lung cancer has a higher mortality rate than other forms of cancer, there are many positive survivor stories to draw on if you’re currently battling this disease. In fact, more than 350,000 lung cancer survivors are alive and well in the US today.
The secret to increasing your survival chances is to take your symptoms seriously. Get seen by a doctor as quickly as possible, who may refer you to a specialist for further tests.
If you are unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with lung cancer, it is essential to develop an effective treatment plan with your medical team as soon as possible. You may also need to look at changing your lifestyle – for instance, if you are a smoker, giving up cigarettes can significantly improve your body’s ability to fight cancer.
Most importantly, you need to remain positive and determined to tackle lung cancer head-on. No matter what your age or stage of diagnosis, your medical team will recommend the best possible treatment course to battle this disease.