Lung Cancer Awareness for Early Prevention and Cure
May we all strive to improve our lung health as we celebrate Lung Cancer Awareness Month this November.
This movement aims to raise awareness for the disease and to achieve better results for lung cancer patients through research.
If you are wondering, the color of the Lung Cancer Awareness ribbon is pearl or white, symbolizing lung cancer as hard to find.
Let us take this time to educate ourselves about the potential causes and risk factors of this disease, so we can better protect ourselves and our loved ones.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lung cancer is the leading cause of death among cancer cases, and is also the second most common cancer (after skin cancer) among patients in the United States.
The World Health Organization (WHO), meanwhile, reported lung cancer as one of the top causes of cancer death (1.76 million deaths) as there are about 2.09 million lung cancer cases worldwide.
In the Philippines, studies found that cancer, is the third leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the country. For both men and women, the Department of Health (DOH) said lung cancer is among the six most common types of cancer, based on statistical data from 2010.
What Causes Lung Cancer?
Cancer arises when normal cells transform into tumor cells through a multistage process. The progression from a precancerous lesion to a malignant tumor is a result of several factors that include both genetics and physical, biological, and chemical carcinogens.
Lung cancer has been primarily linked to smoking, especially tobacco smoking. The American Cancer Society (ACS) says smoking causes 80% of lung cancer deaths, while many other cases are brought about by exposure to secondhand smoke. Tobacco and cigarette smoke can contain more than 60 different toxic substances, which are known to be cancer-producing (carcinogenic).
Aside from this, exposure to various chemicals and substances such as arsenic, asbestos, radon, and silica can be a risk factor. Long-term exposure to coal, coke, and diesel fumes may also increase the risk of developing lung cancer.
Early Detection and Symptoms
Lung cancer deaths can be reduced through early detection and treatment. With early diagnosis, the cancer is more likely to respond to various treatments, allowing for a greater chance of survival, and at most times, less expensive procedures.
One of the most common symptoms is cough that does not go away or gets worse over time. It is also an indication when infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis persist or keep coming back. If you experience coughing up blood or chest pains when breathing, make sure that you consult your doctor for proper diagnosis.
Tips for Keeping Your Lungs Healthy
According to the WHO, we can prevent about 30–50% of cancer cases by avoiding risk factors, and by implementing evidence-based prevention strategies.
The most important thing you can do for your lungs is to avoid smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke. If you can, try to assess and reduce your continued exposure to radiation, especially radon.
It is also vital that you try to mitigate the other risk factors associated with lung cancer: as much as possible, reduce alcohol use, physical inactivity, and unhealthy diet. Foods rich in antioxidants are good for your lungs, like fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. However, if you are already starting lung cancer treatment, make sure you consult your doctor to check whether certain food types such as supplements, can interfere with your treatments.
Keep in mind also, that our lungs, just like any other parts of our body, such as our heart and our joints, age with time. They can become less flexible and weaker as we advance in years, making it more difficult to breathe. However, by maintaining these healthy habits, you ensure the optimal health of your lungs.