More than 20 years ago, the Lung Cancer Alliance launched its initiative to spread the word about lung cancer with Lung Cancer Awareness Day. By discussing symptoms and sharing stories of survivors, LCAD gained a following and evolved into the worldwide Lung Cancer Awareness Month campaign that takes place every November.
In honor of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Texarkana Emergency Center is highlighting some of the most important facts about lung cancer.
Lung cancer is cancer that begins in the lungs due to abnormal cell activity. Unlike regular cells, cancer cells destroy healthy lung tissue by growing uncontrollably and without order. When these cells proliferate, they cluster together and form tumors. Cancerous tumors can grow and spread to different places on the body, preventing other organs from working properly.
Based on the appearance of lung cancer cells (under a microscope), doctors can classify it as one of two types.
The two major types of lung cancer include:
- Small cell lung cancer: This type is the less-common cancer type out of the two. Small cell lung cancer is found almost exclusively in heavy smokers.
- Non-small cell lung cancer: The umbrella term for multiple types of lung cancer that react in a similar way. Non-small cell lung cancer includes large cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and more.
Habitual cigarette smoking is responsible for 80-90 percent of lung cancer deaths in the United States. People who smoke cigarettes are 15 to 30 times more likely to develop lung cancer and/or die from it than non-smokers. Your risk for lung cancer is directly affected by the number of cigarettes you smoke each day and the number of years you’ve smoked. Quitting smoking at any age can lower your risk for lung cancer significantly.
Prevent: Quit smoking cigarettes and using any tobacco products, including pipes, cigars, and e-cigarettes. Confide in your healthcare provider for assistance. Your doctor can recommend personalized strategies like counseling, medications, and nicotine replacement products to help you give up cigarettes permanently.
2. Secondhand Smoke
Cigarettes don’t only negatively affect those who smoke, but everyone around them as well. Smoke from tobacco is a toxic mixture of more than 7,000 chemicals, so anytime your lungs are exposed to it, your chances of getting lung cancer increase.
Prevent: Avoid “smoking zones” in public and at work. If you have a loved one who smokes, kindly ask that they keep it outdoors and not smoke in the house or car.
3. Exposure to radon Gas
When the natural breakdown of soil, rock, and water occur, it releases radon gas into the air we breathe. Radon in the air outside generally isn’t a problem, as it disperses quickly. However, most radon exposure happens inside homes, schools, and places of work. Radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., behind smoking.
Prevent: Have your home tested by a professional or with a do-it-yourself test kit to determine the radon levels inside. If the radon levels are high, contact a certified service professional for help. The EPA recommends radon levels shouldn’t reach or surpass 148 Bq/m3 (4 pCi/L) indoors.
The longer lung cancer goes undiagnosed and untreated, the worse the condition progresses, making you more likely to experience other health-related complications.
These are just a few of the long-term health issues lung cancer can cause:
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing up blood
- Nerve damage
- Heart issues
- Fluid in the chest
- Cancer that spreads to other parts of the body
Generally, symptoms of lung cancer aren’t obvious in its early stages.
Sings of lung cancer may include:
- A persistent cough that won’t go away
- Chest pains
- Bone pain
- Losing weight without trying
As is the case with most cancers, early detection is your best defense against fighting lung cancer. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms persistently, or you’re worried about your lung health, make an appointment with your healthcare provider or visit Texarkana Emergency Center.
Our premier facility offers lab services and imaging, including CT scans, ultrasounds, and X-rays. For lung-related and non-lung-related medical emergencies, our staff is ready to assist you at all times, and our doors are always open. Skip the hassle and wait time, visit Texarkana Emergency Center for the highest-level care in the most efficient manner.
Disclaimer: As a service to our readers, Texarkana Emergency Center and Nutex Health state no content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.