If any of these statements describes you, you’re at increased risk for lung cancer. Since November is Lung Cancer Awareness month, this is a good time to educate yourself about the risks and the treatment options available.
Did you know that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States? More people die from lung cancer than from breast, prostate, ovarian, lymph, and colon cancers combined. So what can you do to keep yourself from becoming a statistic?
The Risk Factors
The first step is learning how to prevent the disease altogether.
- If you don’t smoke, don’t start. Exposure to cigarette smoke is the leading cause of lung cancer. There are thousands of chemicals in cigarette smoke that are known to be carcinogens.
- If you do smoke, stop. Make every effort to kick the habit. Nearly 87% of all lung cancer can be traced to cigarette smoking. Even after you quit, your risk of lung cancer is still present, but at least your risk will decrease as the years go by. And remember, smoking can lead to other health issues as well.
- If you’re around smoke, get away from it. If you are exposed to smoke on a regular basis, do what you can to change that. Ask your family members to stop smoking or to smoke outside. Change your environment as best you can.
- Check your home for radon. Radon is an invisible gas that has no odor, but it is present in many buildings. It is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. You can buy a home radon test kit or hire a professional to inspect your home.
- Limit exposure to chemicals. Lung cancer can also be caused by a wide variety of chemicals in the environment. These include arsenic, asbestos, and uranium. Chemicals in air pollution may also play a role.
Symptoms and Treatment
In its early stages, lung cancer has few symptoms. So by the time you experience them, you should consult a doctor right away. They include:
- A cough that won’t go away
- Coughing up blood
- Shortness of breath
- Pain in your chest
If you are diagnosed with lung cancer, you have several treatment options, depending on how advanced your condition is. You will likely undergo surgery to remove the cancerous part of your lung. You may also require chemotherapy and radiation to kill and/or shrink the cancer cells. These treatments are often used in conjunction with surgery. In some cases you may also benefit from targeted drug therapy.
If you suspect that you have lung cancer, don’t hesitate to get medical attention. Learn all that you can about the disease and take an active role in your treatment. And be willing to accept all the support and help that is offered to you.
If you are cancer free, be thankful and do everything you can to protect your own health and the health of those around you.
To learn more about lung cancer prevention and treatment, contact the Aventura Comprehensive Cancer Center. Visit us online or call Consult-A-Nurse® at 1-888-256-7692. Serving Miami-Dade and South Broward communities, we’re here to answer all your questions.