More people die from lung cancer than from any other kind of cancer known in the medical world and it is important to know what to look for, in terms of symptoms, so that it can be diagnosed while in its early stages. While lung cancer has no known cure, it is treatable, giving patients the chance to extend their lifespan if it is caught early. Sadly, patients often do not find out they have lung cancer until they are in the final stages and usually die of the disease within a year of official diagnosis.
The number one cause of lung cancer is smoking and the majority of people who are diagnosed with this disease are heavy smokers. In fact, medical experts agree that the more cigarettes you smoke per day, the more likely you are to develop lung cancer. Even secondhand smoke has been known to cause lung cancer in non-smokers and it is recommended that you should keep your distance from cigarette and tobacco smoke to avoid increasing your risk. If you do quit smoking, your chances of developing lung cancer can decrease to the same level as someone who has never smoked.
Asbestos has also been linked to lung cancer, and if you happen also be a smoker, your risk for lung cancer increases by double the percentage. If you live in an older home you should have it examined to make sure there is no asbestos present. Asbestos is known as a dangerous material and should be removed carefully by a trained professional.
More evidence is indicating that a polluted environment can also increase your risk for developing lung cancer, acting the same way as if it was secondhand smoke that you are inhaling. If you live in a crowded city, work in an industrial environment, or live within some other type of air pollution, it is important that you monitor your health and use an air purifier whenever possible.
While most people are not exposed to radon, which is created out of uranium, people who work with this material should take extra precaution to protect themselves as it has been linked to lung cancer. According to statistics, about 12% of deaths from lung cancer have been connected to exposure to radon. Again, as with asbestos, if you are a smoker and are exposed to radon, you are more likely to develop this cancer than someone who is not a smoker.
What to look for
If you fall under the risk categories previously listed, then you should be monitoring your health and reporting anything out of the ordinary to your doctor. There are several symptoms that are associated with lung cancer and these are some of them:
shortness of breath
coughing up of blood
constant bouts of bronchitis or other respiratory infections
Today there are only a couple of different tests that are available to correctly diagnose the existence of lung cancer. Typically the doctor starts the diagnosis process by taking an x-ray of your chest to see if they can spot anything unusual. The next step is to undergo a CT scan or a chest MRI which can show in a little bit better detail any masses that may exist within the lungs. The final step is the biopsy and this is where a surgical procedure is performed to go into the lung and remove a small portion of a tumor for further analysis.