Cancer – the dreaded word! It makes all and sundry cower. Despite the many advancements health sciences have made to keep cancer under control, the word still evokes fear. There are different types of cancer. Out of these cancers, lung cancer is the one that snatches away more lives in the United States. It’s also the second leading type of cancer among men in India.
As the name suggests, lung cancer affects the lungs. What makes the disease even more dangerous is that it doesn’t show symptoms much before it’s in advanced stages. This makes the treatment difficult.
The common symptoms of lung cancer include:
- Cough that doesn’t die down
- Traces of blood in phlegm
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Weight loss
- Bone pain
If any of these is persistent, make sure that you see a doctor at the earliest. As we’ve already seen, symptoms of lung cancer don’t appear when the disease is in its initial stages. So, without time lapse, seek medical attention.
The leading cause of lung cancer is smoking. Even passive smokers are at a higher risk of contracting the disease. Other reasons are exposure to carcinogens such as asbestos and radon gas. However, in some cases people who never smoked also get cancer. While non-smokers getting cancer cannot be ruled out, studies clearly suggest a deep-rooted connection between smoking and cancer.
Smoking damages the cells that line the lungs. Initially, our body repairs it. But repeated exposures cause the cells to act abnormally and let cancer make inroads into the lungs.
The Preventive Measures
The first and most important step one can take towards the prevention of lung cancer is never to start smoking. For a smoker, it’s to quit it at the earliest. Also, make sure that you’re not a victim of passive smoking.
The good news for smokers is that even if you’re smoking for years quitting smoking significantly reduces your chances of falling prey to lung cancer.
There are two types of cancer. They are called small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.
Small cell lung cancer: Less common than non-small cell lung cancer, it’s almost exclusively found in heavy smokers.
Non-small cell lung cancer: It’s an umbrella term for a wide range of cancers that includes squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma and large cell carcinoma.
There are many ways in which lung cancer is treated depending on the type and nature of it.
Surgery: In the surgical procedure, doctors cut out the affected part and removes the tumor.
Chemotherapy: It’s given as an injection or pills or sometimes both. The special medicines are used to shrink or kill cancer.
Radiation Therapy: In this mode of treatment, high energy rays are used to kill the cancerous cells.
Targeted Therapy: This is a way in which drugs are used to block the growth and spread of cancer cells.
The best way to beat cancer is to undergo periodical checkups. Remember, in cancer diagnosis and treatment, early detection is crucial. Together, let’s fight against lung cancer by quitting smoking, limiting our exposure to other hazards and opting to check ourselves regularly.