17th November, 2007
Lung cancer, is infamous as the deadliest of all cancers. The theme this year for the World Lung Cancer day is 'Stop smoking-Prevent Lung Cancer'. Although this malignancy boasts of the highest rate of mortality, it can be prevented.
Endeavors planned for this World lung cancer day will focus on disseminating vital information about prevention of this chronic disease.
• Lung cancer, deadliest of all cancers, causes 1.2 million deaths globally
Lung Cancer - Causes
According to data, nearly 90% of lung cancers are caused due to smoking. Smoking is also linked to increasing the risks of heart disease and stroke. Smoking can also trigger bronchitis.
Tobacco in any form enhances the risk of cancer. Cigarette smoke is extremely harmful to health as it contains innumerable carcinogens. The risk is manifold depending upon the quantity and duration of the habit.
The positive aspect of kicking the habit is that the risks mitigate with each year of abstaining from tobacco. This is because the body replaces the abnormal cells with normal ones.
Smoking is bad for the smoker as well as for those around, widely known as passive smoking. Passive smoking or second hand smoking is also a major cause of lung cancer. It is disheartening to observe that smoking has become popular among women too, irrespective of their geographical background.
Flavored tobacco, used in hookahs are highly popular among men and women in several Asian countries. It is promoted under the pretense of being mild and not harmful. Smoking in any form is indeed injurious-the 'baccy' being flavored or not!
Exposure to carcinogens in the atmosphere as part of ones occupation is a significant cause of this disease. In this aspect, asbestos has been in the news as a risk factor for lung cancer. Pollution in the atmosphere also enhances the risk of lung cancer.
Occupational hazards coupled by bad lifestyle choices like smoking can simply magnify the risks of lung cancer.
Types of Lung Cancer
Lung cancer can be of two types - non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. Incidence of Non small cell lung cancer is high as compared to small cell lung cancer.
Oat cell cancer, another name for small cell lung cancer is responsible for about 20% of lung cancer cases.
Watch out for Symptoms
In the absence of any tell tale symptoms of lung cancer, the disease often goes undetected in the early stages. The symptoms often manifest during advanced stages of the disease.
• Severe cough
• Coughing Blood
• Change of voice
• Lack of appetite
• Weight loss
• Chest pain
The presence of any or all of these symptoms calls for medical attention, though it is not a sure-shot confirmation of the disease. Many other conditions associated with the lungs also portray similar symptoms.
An expert will recommend tests to confirm the cause of the symptoms.
Medical evaluation will involve evaluating the patient's medical history. A physical exam, followed by a chest x-ray, or CT scan depending upon the severity of the symptoms will be conducted.
A Biopsy sample may also be taken to confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment of Lung Cancer
Treatment of lung cancer depends upon several factors such as the severity of the case, location and size of the tumor, and extent of spread. Treatment of lung cancer will employ the following method either in combination or isolation depending on the patient's profile.
• Radiation therapy
Lung Cancer Prevention
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Lung cancer can be prevented. The following steps will help prevent the dreaded disease.
1. Smoking - Kick the habit
2. Make your environment safe. Having smokers around is bad enough. Insist on a smoke- free environment
3. Protect yourself from dust and fumes in the workplace
4. Do not smoke in front of children. Besides setting a bad precedent, the habit harms them and makes them prone to illnesses, including cancer!
5. Protect your environment so that it protects you
The onus is on each one of us to spread awareness and to be vigilant in order to control this fatal disease. Kicking dangerous habits and practising eco-friendly methods will definitely see a decline in morbidity due to lung cancer. Let us join our hearts and hands to build a cancer -free society!