Every two and a half minutes in the USA someone is diagnosed with lung cancer.1 This turns out to a scary 235,760 Americans given the diagnoses of lung cancer which is now the leading cause of cancer death worldwide.2 But thanks to advancements in early detection methods more Americans than ever are surviving lung cancer. Leading experts agree that early detection is still the best treatment and you can never be too early to check for symptoms now.
What Exactly Is Lung Cancer?
Cancer is a disease of the body in which harmful cells begin to grow out of control. Lung cancer specifically begins in the lungs but can quickly spread to lymph nodes and other parts of the body. Lung cancer typically begins in the bronchi cells which carry oxygen into your lungs after the windpipe.
Who Is Most At Risk Of Diagnosis?
With 1 in 16 people to be diagnosed in their lifetime of lung cancer the disease is considered quite common. Lung cancer actually kills almost 3 times as many men then prostate cancer, and 3 times as many women as breast cancer. It is slightly more common in men than women, however it is by a very slim difference. According to the American Cancer Society those who are 65 years or older are the most common for receiving lung cancer diagnosis. There is also heightened risk for African American demographics with 15% more likely to develop the disease.
What Are The Risk Factors?
It is well documented that smoking cigarettes is the leading risk factor for all lung cancer and responsible for 80% of lung cancer deaths worldwide.3 Some people are exposed to harmful substances via inhalation of work environments. These other contributing factors include:
– Exposure to radon gas
– Secondhand smoking (Passive smoking)
– Asbestos inhalation
– Air pollution
– Diesel and fuel exhaust
– Toxic metals like arsenic, chromium and cadmium
A family history of lung cancer may contribute to a higher risk of an individual developing the disease. If you have any genetic history it is highly recommended to receive screening more regularly.
The Major Symptoms of Lung Cancer
Early detection of lung cancer is sometimes difficult in that symptoms do not appear until the disease is more advanced. If you’re feeling any of the following symptoms and have a smoking history its strongly recommended to make an appointment with your doctor right away.
– Chest pain
– Shortness of breath
– Losing weight without trying
– Consistent headache and dizziness
– Coughing up blood
– Fluid in the chest
– Cough that does not go away
– Aching bones
– Still current smoking habits
Note these conditions can be caused by many other health factors*
How Is Lung Cancer Diagnosed?
There are three main ways to diagnose lung cancer. The first and most common is CT scan which uses X-rays to visualise the internal structures of your body. Computed tomography is particularly good at detecting nodules and finding small tumors in early stages. MRI scanning can provide similar results but with a less damaging impact on the body. The next stage of testing includes biopsies where a needle is inserted into the affected area and cells are samples for lab analysis. This is typically done after a positive CT scan result.
The Treatment System for Lung Cancer
Like most cancers, treatment methods are usually dependent upon the stage of cancer. Surgery is often reserved as a last resort if the cancer has spread in to surrounding organs. The best treatment method in most cases of early detection is chemotherapy and radiation therapy. These treatment options are essential to attacking the cancerous cells while leaving healthy cells intact and able to function. Patients may also be eligible to participate in clinical trials when available.
How Can I Reduce My Risk?
Quitting cigarette smoking is of course the best way to reduce your risk of lung cancer. It is the leading cause of lung cancer in men and women worldwide. Giving up cigarette smoking will not only reduce your risk but increase your lifespan as well.
Eat a well balanced diet with plenty of quality meats and vegetables. Focusing on strengthening the immune system by ridding the body of inflammation is a positive way to defend your body against cancer. Omega 3 fatty acids found in certain fish like salmon and sardines can help to lower inflammation in the body which may lead to cancer developing.
What Are The Stages of Lung Cancer?
Lung cancer can be divided into 4 stages based on how far spread the disease is, when it was diagnosed, and how significant the disease is.
Stage 0 – Cancer has not spread from where it starts and no noticeable symptoms exist. Patients with this stage typically do not seek treatment as they do not know they have cancer. Most cases go into remission after 1 year if caught early on.
Stage 1 – Cancer has spread from its place of origin but remains contained within the lungs. 25% of all lung cancer cases are in this stage and survival rates are high.
Stage 2 – Cancer has spread to surrounding tissues and lymph nodes on a small scale. The patient may appear healthy with no signs of being ill if the cancer is caught early enough.
Stage 3 – Cancer has spread to nearby tissue, organs and lymph nodes and may be present on one side only or both sides of the chest.
Stage 4 – Cancer has spread to other organs and systems in the body such as brain and bone marrow. By this stage of lunch cancer unfortunately death is very probable.
Get Screened For Lung Cancer Now
If you’re experiencing any symptoms, have smoked cigarettes or have a family history of lung cancer you should consult your doctor for a screening. To this day the best treatment of lung cancer is an early detection and can have dramatic impact on your survival of the disease. For the best professional screening centres near you or to view the most common symptoms search here.