Know Lung Cancer Better, Live Your Life Better
Nowadays lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths in both men and women. To live healthier and longer, here are 15 facts you need to know about lung cancer.
1. The Cause of Lung Cancer
Today nearly 9 out of 10 lung cancer deaths is caused by smoking, while pollution, radon gas, and other things play a smaller role.
2. When Smoking Is the Cause
Tobacco smoke stops cilia, tiny hairs in the airways, from sweeping out toxins, bacteria, and viruses. This allows the cancer-causing chemicals contained in cigarettes build up.
Signs which may suggest lung cancer include chest pain, a continuous cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, and coughing up bloody phlegm.
4. Can You Get Checked?
Some early lung cancers can get checked by a type of scan called spiral CT, while some can't. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force highly recommends a CT scan every year for heavy smokers ages 55-80, and those who used to smoke a lot and quit less than 15 years ago.
If your doctor thinks you might have lung cancer, you'll get a chest X-ray or other imagining tests. If either of these tests suggests that you could have cancer, you'll probably need to get a biopsy.
6. What Is a Biopsy?
By studying a small sample of the suspicious growth under a microscope, a pathologist can determine whether the tumor is lung cancer, and it if so, what kind.
7. Two Main Types
Small-cell lung cancer is more aggressive and can spread quickly to other parts of the body early in the disease. It is often seen in smokers. Non-small-cell lung cancer grows more slowly and is more common.
8. What's the Stage?
Small-cell lung cancer is divided into two stages: "limited" and "extensive". "Limited" means the cancer is restricted to one lung and maybe nearby lymph nodes. "Extensive" means cancer has spread to the other lung or beyond.
Non-small-cell lung cancer is assigned I through IV, depending on how far it has spread.
9. Early-Stage Treatment
For non-small-cell lung cancer within one lung, the surgeon may remove the part of the lung with the tumor, or maybe the entire lung. Sometimes radiation or chemotherapy will be used afterward to kill any remaining cancer cells. Surgery usually doesn't help with small-cell lung cancer because it probably has already spread before diagnosis.
10. If It's Advanced Lung Cancer
When lung cancer spreads too far to be cured, treatments may still help people live better. Radiation and chemotherapy can shrink tumors and help control symptoms.
11. New Treatments
Targeted therapy plus chemotherapy may help control lung cancer if others can't. One type stops the growth of new blood vessels that feed cancer cells. Others prevent lung cancer cells from multiplying.
Immunotherapy works with the immune system to fight non-small-cell lung cancer. Meanwhile, you'd also get chemotherapy.
12. Quitting Smoking Helps
Study shows that people who quit smoking after being diagnosed with lung cancer can do better than those who keep smoking.
13. Dangerous Work
People who work with uranium, arsenic, and other chemicals are more likely to get lung cancer.
14. Radon Gas
Radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. The gas can build up inside homes and raise the risk of lung cancer.
If you don't smoke and you avoid other people's smoke, that will greatly lower your odds of getting it.