According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 222,500 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2017. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths. This year alone, it will claim more than 155,000 lives — more than colon, breast, and prostate cancer combined.
November is National Lung Cancer Awareness Month. This month, organizations across the country will rally their communities in the fight against the number one cancer killer.
Lung Cancer: Types, Symptoms & Causes
The first step in having an impact in the fight against lung cancer is knowing the facts. Read on for information about the causes of lung cancer, symptoms, and how you can help raise lung cancer awareness.
Types of Lung Cancer
There are three types of lung cancer: small cell (SCLC), non-small cell (NSCLC), and carcinoid. NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer, making up about 80% of all cases. SCLC is a fast-growing type of lung cancer commonly caused by smoking. Carcinoid tumors are extremely rare and slow-growing, making up about 5% of cases.
Symptoms of Lung Cancer
The lungs have very little nerve endings. Because of this, tumors may not initially produce symptoms that the patient can feel until the cancer is in its later stages. Many respiratory symptoms of lung cancer mimic other illnesses, which can also delay diagnosis and treatment.
Common symptoms of lung cancer to look out for include:
- Persistent coughing that worsens over time
- Hoarseness or voice changes
- Frequent lung infections, such as bronchitis or pneumonia
- Coughing up blood
- Shortness of breath
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Bone pain
Causes of Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is caused by cells in the lungs mutating or changing. The most common trigger for the mutation is inhaling toxic substances, such as tobacco smoke, asbestos, radon, or arsenic, just to name a few.
Lung cancer does not discriminate. Anyone can be diagnosed with the disease. The number one cause of lung cancer is smoking, affecting smokers as well as non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke. Inhalation of dangerous substances can take decades to cause lung cancer. Moreover, your genes can put you at a higher risk if there is a family history of lung cancer.
Ways to Raise Lung Cancer Awareness
There are many ways in which you can join in the fight against the number one cancer killer.
Education: Education is the very first step in raising awareness about lung cancer. When you read and share articles like this one, you are arming yourself with the facts about this dangerous disease and making sure your circle knows about them as well.
Social Media: If you or someone you know has been affected by lung cancer, share your story on social media. Your story could help someone currently struggling, or inspire them to take charge of their health.
Community Events: Many organizations working to research and treat lung cancer will hold community walks, galas, and other fundraising events. You can find these events during Lung Cancer Awareness Month, but also during the rest of the year. Find a community event near you to take part in.
Identify Your Risks: If you or a loved one has a greater risk of developing lung cancer, it is important to seek out screening options and professional support. For example, steelworkers are at an increased risk of developing asbestos-caused diseases, such as lung cancer. If you believe that your lung cancer is a result of asbestos exposure, you may need to seek out an asbestos injury lawyer that will fight for your rights and help you navigate through a potential diagnosis.