November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. It is the leading cause of more than 150,000 deaths per year in the United States. This year, the theme is “You Are Not Alone” emphasizing the importance of support for lung cancer patients and their families. Lung cancer is often under-recognized and undertreated. Lung Cancer Awareness Month is an annual campaign to raise awareness of the disease and its risk factors, promote early detection and screening, and provide support for patients and their families.
What is Lung Cancer?
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, accounting for more than 150,000 deaths each year.
Lung cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the lung grow out of control. These abnormal cells can form a tumor that grows and invades nearby tissue. Lung cancer can also spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream.
There are two main types of lung cancer: small-cell lung cancer and non-small-cell lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer is more aggressive and spreads more quickly than non-small cell lung cancer.
Risk Factors for Lung Cancer
There are many risk factors for lung cancer, including smoking, exposure to secondhand smoke, and exposure to radon gas, asbestos, and other pollutants. Other risk factors include previous lung diseases, such as tuberculosis; family history of lung cancer; and exposure to certain chemicals, such as arsenic or chromium. People who have a higher risk of developing lung cancer should talk to their doctor about ways to reduce their risk.
Signs and Symptoms
Lung cancer symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, and weight loss. However, these symptoms may not appear until the disease is advanced.
When it comes to lung cancer, there are several signs and symptoms that may be an indication that something is wrong. Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that these symptoms can also be caused by other less serious health conditions. However, if you experience any of the following symptoms on a regular basis, it’s important to see your doctor for a check-up:
- A cough that won’t go away or gets worse over time
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Hoarseness in the voice
- Recurrent lung infections
- Coughed up blood
While lung cancer mortality rates have been declining over the past few decades in some populations due to smoking cessation, the number of new cases diagnosed each year has remained relatively stable. The good news is that lung cancer can be detected early through screening, which can lead to better treatment outcomes.
Screening for lung cancer is recommended for adults ages 55 to 80 who have a history of smoking tobacco for at least 30 years. If you are in this age group and have smoked for many years, talk to your doctor about whether lung cancer screening is right for you. There are two main types of screening tests for lung cancer: low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) and sputum cytology.
LDCT involves getting a low-dose CT scan of your chest. This test is quick and easy, and it can be done at most hospitals and radiology centers. Sputum cytology involves looking at a sample of your sputum (mucus coughed up from your lungs) under a microscope to see if there are any abnormal cells present. This test is usually done as part of a bronchoscopy procedure, in which a small camera is passed down your throat so that your doctor can get a closer look at your airways.
If you are diagnosed with lung cancer, the stage of your cancer will determine your treatment options. Treatment for early-stage lung cancer may involve surgery to remove the tumor, radiation therapy, or both. Chemotherapy may also be used in some cases. Treatment for late-stage lung cancer typically involves chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.
Lung cancer is a serious disease, but it is important to remember that it is treatable, especially when it is caught early.
Prevention of Lung Cancer
Smoking is by far the most important risk factor for lung cancer. Cigarette smoking causes damage to the cells that line the lungs, making them more vulnerable to abnormal cell growth.
There is no sure way to prevent lung cancer, but you can greatly reduce your risk by not smoking or by quitting if you already smoke. If you don’t smoke, avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. You can also reduce your risk by staying away from other known lung cancer risks, such as radon and asbestos.
Treatment Options for Lung Cancer
There are many different treatment options available which will depend on a number of factors including the stage, the type of cancer cells present, and the overall health of the patient. Some common treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy.
Surgery is the first line of treatment for lung cancer and may be used to remove a small part of a lung. Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells over a period of months. Targeted therapy uses drugs that target specific mutations in cancer cells which can help to shrink tumors or slow their growth.
The decision on which treatment to pursue will be made by a team of specialists taking into account all of the above factors. Always remember that it is important to remain positive and optimistic throughout the process.
How to get involved?
Share your story on social media or at an event. Find an event near you and go to show your support.
Educate yourself and others about lung cancer. Learn about the signs and symptoms of lung cancer, as well as risk factors and ways to prevent it. Then, share that information with others to help raise awareness.
Make a donation. There are many organizations working to fight lung cancer. Consider making a donation to one of them during Lung Cancer Awareness Month.
Support Groups for Those with Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is a scary diagnosis and you are not alone. There are many support groups available to help you through this tough time. Here are some of the best support groups for those with lung cancer:
1. American Lung Association
The American Lung Association offers a variety of resources and support for those affected by lung cancer.
2. Cancer Care
Cancer Care is a national nonprofit organization that provides free, professional support services to anyone affected by lung cancer.
3. National Cancer Institute
The National Cancer Institute has information on lung cancer, including treatment options, clinical trials, and supportive care services.
Lung Cancer Awareness Month is an important time to raise awareness about this disease and its risk factors. There are many resources available to help you with the diagnosis if you have lung cancer. We can help in so many things by raising awareness. For more health insights, visit Centric Healthcare.