Every year, about 2.1 million people, both men, and women are diagnosed with lung cancer. In 2018 alone, lung cancer killed an estimated 1.8 million people.
Luckily, early detection can help save lives. According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer accounts for more deaths in both men and women than any other cancer even though the smoking rate has dropped in recent years.
As the name suggests, lung cancer begins in the lungs. Typically, lung cancer doesn’t cause signs and symptoms when in the early stages. Signs and symptoms tend to occur when the disease has advanced. They may include:
· Coughing up blood
· A cough that won’t go away
· Chest pain
· Shortness of breath
· Losing weight without trying
· Bone pain
Here are five facts about lung cancer you should know:
1. A Combination of Different Factors causes it
While lung cancer is commonly associated with smoking cigarettes, lung cancer also occurs among people who don’t and have never smoked in their lives. However, smoking has been responsible for 80% of lung cancer cases; it is the 6th leading cause of cancer death in the world.
Leading causes of lung cancer among nonsmokers include:
· Air pollution
· Exposure to diesel exhaust, asbestos, and industrial chemicals
· Exposure to random gas released from building materials and soil
· Exposure to secondhand smoke
Despite all these factors that cause lung cancer, lung cancer is often a result of interacting factors. According to the National Institutes of Health, smokers exposed to radon gas are at an increased risk of lung cancer.
Smokers who are also exposed to asbestos also increase their chances of developing lung cancer. Occupational exposures like uranium, asbestos, and coke also increase a person’s risk of lung cancer.
2. CT Screenings Can Help Save Lives
The key to surviving lung cancer, as with other cancers, is catching it in its earliest stages to improve your chances of treatment. Unfortunately, lung cancer can be tough to diagnose early because the symptoms don’t appear until in the advanced stage.
Low-dose spiral CT (Computed Tomography) has proven to help reduce lung cancer deaths in those at higher risks of lung cancer. There was a 20% death reduction in lung cancer deaths, as per the National Lung Screening Trial among both former heavy smokers and current smokers who were screened with CT than those screened by chest X-ray.
3. There are Different Lung Cancer Types
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer. It makes up 80-85% of all lung cancer cases. Squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, large cell neuroendocrine tumors, and large cell carcinoma are considered part of this group.
Small Cell Lung Cancer
SCLC makes up 15-20% of lung cancer cases. This is a fast-growing type of lung cancer that rapidly spreads to other parts of the body.
This is a cancer type of organ linings. It can originate in the lungs, or the heart, abdomen, chest, and heart. It is commonly associated with exposure to asbestos.
These are neuroendocrine tumor types that originate on either the lungs or the small intestines.
4. Age Makes a Difference
Most people living with lung cancer got their diagnoses in the last five years. Most of these patients are older adults, which is why lung cancer is assumed to be a ‘senior disease.’ 86% of people with lung cancer, as per 2015 statistics, were at least 60 years old.
5. Early Detection is Key
With the low-dose CT screening, lung cancer can be detected in early stages, especially for those in the ‘high-risk’ category and improve their survival rate by 14-20%.
When it comes to lung cancer detection, the earlier, the better and the higher your chances of survival, if diagnosed with early-stage cancer, you can start treatment immediately because the disease is more likely curable when still in the early stages.
If you work in an industry like manufacturing, construction, or serve in the U.S military where the use of asbestos is common, or if you have one or more lung cancer risk factors, talk to a medical professional. Your doctor will help you determine whether or not you should be screened early.