Lung cancer is a lung disease which primarily occurs because of smoking. It is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in the United States among both men and women. Lung cancer is often diagnosed at later stages because the disease shows no obvious symptoms until it is quite advanced. In rare cases of early diagnosis, it can be managed by taking medications using free medication reminder app and some other treatment options that we will discuss in later parts of this article.
Though lung cancer has various causes, smoking is the one that contributes to it the most. People who smoke regularly have more risk of lung cancer than those who don’t smoke, or smoke less frequently. The more cigarettes a person smokes, the higher their risk of lung cancer. If you choose to quit cigarettes even after many years of smoking, your chances of catching lung cancer will decrease significantly.
What Are the Types of Lung Cancer?
Though lung cancer can occur in various types, doctors divide it into two major categories: small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC)
SCLC is a rare type of lung cancer which primarily occurs in heavy smokers. Approximately 10%-15% of cases of lung cancer are small-cell lung cancer.
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)
NSCLC is basically a broad term for various types of lung cancers. Squamous cell carcinoma, large cell carcinoma, and adenocarcinoma are some of the common types of this disease. Around 85%-90% of cases of lung cancer are NSCLC.
What Causes Lung Cancer?
Various factors contribute to the development of lung cancer. Some are manageable, such as quitting smoking, while some aren’t manageable, such as your family history.
Air pollution from vehicles, industry, can increase your risk of lung cancer.
Exposure to asbestos fibers and other carcinogens such as chromium, arsenic, and nickel increases the risk of lung cancer.
Exposure to Radon
Radon is a radioactive gas with no odor or taste. It is produced by the natural decay of uranium in rock, soil, and water. When you breathe the air contaminated by radon, your risk of developing lung cancer increases significantly.
Exposure to secondhand smoke can also put you at higher risk of lung cancer.
Family history such as having a parent or sibling with lung cancer may increase your risk of developing this disease, too.
Tobacco use is one of the main causes of lung cancer. Roughly 90% of all lung cancer cases are because of tobacco inhaled directly or indirectly. An alarming fact about tobacco use is that even those who don’t smoke but work around or live in the company of smokers may end up inhaling dangerous amounts of tobacco through the smoke and left in the environment. The possibility of a cigarette smoker developing lung cancer depends on the number of cigarettes smoked each day, and how long the person has smoked. However, not all cigarette smokers develop lung cancer – a person’s tendency to inherit certain conditions plays a role as well. Quitting tobacco/smoking greatly reduces the risk of this disease.
What Health Complications Can Lung Cancer Cause?
Lung cancer can cause many health issues such as:
Shortness of Breath
Since the main function of lungs is to help us breathe, people with this disease can experience serious breathing issues if the tumor blocks the major airways. Moreover, fluid tends to gather around the affected lung, making it harder for it to expand properly when you inhale.
Coughing Up Blood
Once the airways are blocked or damaged, they may start bleeding, causing you to cough up blood. If the bleeding is severe, take medications using prescription reminder app or look for another way of treatment with the help of your specialist.
You may experience severe pain during advanced stages of lung cancer. This pain typically occurs when the cancer has spread to the lining of a lung or some other part of the body, such as bones. Tell your doctor right away if the pain becomes severe.
Pleural effusion is a condition in which fluid gathers around the affected lung in the space that surrounds it in the chest cavity. That space is called pleural space and fluid accumulating in it can cause shortness of breath.
Many treatments are available to drain that fluid from your chest and prevent it from reoccurring.
Spreading of cancer to other parts of the body is called metastasis. The risk of metastasis is high with lung cancer because it often breaks away from the main site of the tumor and spreads to other parts of the body, making the condition worse. As a result, you may feel pain, nausea, headaches, or other issues depending on what organ is affected.
Once lung cancer has spread to other parts of the body such as bones or the brain, it generally become uncurable. However, treatments are available to manage this condition and to help you live longer.
Some other complications you may experience due to lung cancer may include:
- Nonstop cough which gets worse over time
- Swelling of the neck and face
- Constant chest pain
- Pneumonia or bronchitis
- Loss of appetite or weight loss
Note that having one or more of these conditions isn’t always a sign of lung cancer. Many other conditions can cause these as well. See your doctor to uncover any underlying health issues.
How to Prevent Lung Cancer?
Since cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for lung cancer, avoiding this habit can prevent its risk to a great margin. Educate your children about the dangers of smoking and benefits of not smoking. If you smoke, quit it right away. And if you have never smoked before, then keep avoiding at all costs. Even if you have smoked cigarettes for years, quitting can greatly reduce your risk of lung cancer. If you are finding it hard to quit, connect with your doctor to figure out strategies that can help you quit. Nicotine replacement products and support groups are the most effective ways to get rid of this habit.
Avoid Secondhand Smoke
Secondhand smoke is as dangerous for lungs as smoking itself. If your friends or coworkers smoke cigarettes, urge them to quit – or at least ask them to smoke outside. Avoid areas where you may be exposed to secondhand smoke such as bars and restaurants, and look for smoke-free places.
Carcinogens are toxic chemicals whose exposure can lead to several types of cancer. If you work at a place where there is a risk of exposure to these chemicals, always wear a facemask for protection. Also, ask your doctor what other steps you can take to avoid these chemicals. Your risk of lung cancer from carcinogens increases if you smoke.
Eat A Healthy Diet
Eat a healthy diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Focus on getting vitamins and nutrients from food instead of taking them from pills or medications using medicine reminder app as this may be harmful.
Make exercise a part of your routine and hit the gym for at least 3-4 days a week. Doing so will keep your lungs and other organs in good shape.