With the changing of the seasons and the holidays approaching, November has another significant meaning. It is Lung Cancer Awareness Month.
Many people don’t know but Lung cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women. However it is still the most common cause of cancer death next to the three most common cancers combined (colon, breast and prostate). Lung cancer is a complex disease to treat and understand. Understanding the basics of lung cancer is an important step in preventing lung cancer deaths. If you know the facts about lung cancer it will be easier to understand and talk to your doctor.
When a person has lung cancer, they have abnormal cells that cluster together to form a tumor. Unlike normal cells, cancer cells grow without order or control and destroy the healthy lung tissue around them. Many people with lung cancer don’t experience symptoms until the disease is in its later stages. There are very few nerve endings in the lungs, which mean a tumor could be present without causing pain or discomfort. When symptoms are present, they are different in each person.
These symptoms can include:
• A cough that doesn’t go away and gets worse over time
• A chronic cough or “smoker’s cough”
• Constant chest pain
• Shortness of breath, or wheezing
• Frequent lung infections, such as bronchitis or pneumonia
• Coughing up blood
Some symptoms of lung cancer may not seem related to the lungs or breathing. These symptoms can still be a sign of lung cancer because lung cancer usually does not cause symptoms in the earlier stages of the disease. This means some symptoms do not appear until the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
These symptoms may include:
• Loss of weight
• Loss of appetite
• Bone pain or fractures
• Blood clots
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, see your doctor immediately.
To help protect yourself against lung cancer, there are certain precautions you should take.
1 If you are a smoker. STOP! If you don’t smoke, don’t start. Avoid second hand smoke.
2 Test your home for Radon (a colorless, odor less gas)
3 If you have been exposed to dust or fumes at work or home make sure all air ducts and vents are properly cleaned. If you have a water leak make sure it is cleaned up promptly so that no mold forms. Be careful when using cleaning chemicals that have a strong odors or fumes.
4-Help fight pollution
There are several different treatment options for lung cancer. The type and length of treatment time is chosen by you and your doctors. These treatments are based on:
• the type and stage of lung cancer you have
• other existing health issues
• your own preferences
These treatments options include Radiation, chemo therapy, surgery, therapies, palliative care, clinical trials and last end of life care.
Cancer is not an easy disease to grasp but with proper nutrition and preventative care this can make a difference in your life and the loved ones around you. Let’s all ban together and fight this horrible disease.