Lung Cancer Awareness Month
November is recognized as Lung Cancer Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about the risks and impact of lung cancer and promote prevention, early detection, and treatment.
Lung cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the lungs and can spread to other parts of the body. It is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, accounting for more deaths than breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers combined. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 235,760 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2021, and approximately 131,880 people will die from the disease.
There are two main types of lung cancer: non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer and accounts for about 85% of all cases. SCLC is less common but tends to grow more quickly and spread more aggressively.
The most common cause of lung cancer is smoking, which is responsible for about 85% of all cases. However, non-smokers can also develop lung cancer, and other risk factors include exposure to secondhand smoke, air pollution, radon, asbestos, and other chemicals.
The symptoms of lung cancer can vary depending on the type and stage of the disease. Some common symptoms include:
- A persistent cough that doesn’t go away or gets worse
- Shortness of breath or wheezing
- Chest pain
- Hoarseness or difficulty speaking
- Fatigue or weakness
- Unexplained weight loss
Early detection and treatment are crucial in managing lung cancer and improving outcomes. Screening for lung cancer is recommended for people who are at high risk, such as current or former smokers, and involves a low-dose CT scan of the chest. Early-stage lung cancer may be treated with surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy, while more advanced cases may require a combination of treatments.
Prevention is also an important part of reducing the risk of lung cancer. Quitting smoking is the most important step you can take to protect your lung health and reduce the risk of lung cancer. If you are a current smoker, quitting smoking can be challenging, but there are many resources available to help you quit, including nicotine replacement therapy, medications, and counseling.
In addition to quitting smoking, there are other steps you can take to reduce your risk of lung cancer, such as:
- Avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke
- Limiting exposure to air pollution and other environmental toxins
- Testing your home for radon and taking steps to reduce levels if necessary
- Following workplace safety guidelines if you work with chemicals or other substances that can increase the risk of lung cancer
Lung Cancer Awareness Month is an important opportunity to raise awareness about the risks and impact of lung cancer and promote prevention, early detection, and treatment. By taking steps to protect your lung health and seeking early detection and treatment if you have symptoms of lung cancer, you can improve your chances of survival and maintain your quality of life.