November is regarded as the lung cancer awareness month every year. Lung cancer is the second most spreadable cancer after breast cancer. Moreover, it is the leading cause of death all across the globe. That is why people worldwide come together in November and spread awareness about lung cancer. People raise funds for the needy, put up posters, share their stories, and spread knowledge about the symptoms and treatment throughout November to support the cause. A white ribbon symbolizes lung cancer, so you might see many of them in November.
What is lung cancer? What happens in lung cancer?
The lungs are an essential part of our body. They are the most significant part of our respiratory system. Lungs provide us with oxygen and remove harmful gasses like carbon dioxide from our bodies.
But when lung cancer occurs, there is an uncontrollable mutation of cells in the lungs. It causes the malfunctioning of the lungs, and eventually, lung cancer spreads to other parts of the body. Lung cancer begins in the lining of the cells and parts of the lungs, including alveoli and bronchioles. Gradually, cancer spreads to other parts of the body.
Types of Lung Cancer-
Lung Cancer is mainly of two types:
- Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) Non-small cell lung cancer is the most prevalent type of lung cancer. Even though it spreads slower than small lung cancer, it is still the leading cause of death.Non-small cell lung cancer is further divided into three parts:1. Adenocarcinoma- Non-smokers go through this cancer. It starts in the outer lining of the lungs. It occurs in cells that produce mucus. But luckily, doctors can find out about this cancer before it spreads in the body. Moreover, it looks better than other types of NSCLC cancer. Women are more prone to get this than men.
2. Squamous Cell- This type of cancer forms in the center of the lungs next to the bronchus, our air tube. Mainly smokers or former smokers catch squamous cell lung cancer.
3. Large cell carcinoma- This cancer can spread in any part of the lungs and fans at a high-speed rate. This type of cancer cell is abnormal to look at and unlike others.
- Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC)- The “oat-cell” cancer affects only 20 percent of lung cancer patients. It spreads very quickly. Its cells look like oats under a microscope; hence, it is called “oat-cell” cancer. Small-cell lung cancer begins in the bronchi but spreads to other parts of the lungs and eventually the body rapidly. It generally occurs due to smoking.
Other uncommon types of lung cancer-
- Mesothelioma- It rarely occurs, but it is deadly cancer. Only a few people get over this cancer. It affects the tissues surrounding the lungs.
- Lung Carcinoid tumors- These are, again, not very common types of lung cancer. Only about one or two percent of people suffer from these lung cancers. There are typical carcinoids that grow at a slower pace and do not pass beyond the lungs. And then there are atypical carcinoid tumors which grow at a fast rate, and they may even go beyond the lungs.
Symptoms of lung cancer-
- Cough which lasts more than longer or goes worse
- Blood in the cough or spit
- Loss of appetite
- Chest pain
- Breathing problems
- Weight loss without working out or dieting, or making any effort to lose weight
- Headache and body pain
Causes and risk factors of lung Cancer
- Smoking- It is the leading cause of lung cancer. Each cigarette that we smoke increases our risk of cancer. Cigarettes have carcinogens in them, which damage the cells of the lungs. Even secondhand smoke or passive smoking can eventually increase your risk of lung cancer.
- Family history- If someone in your family initially had lung cancer, it leaves you at risk of inheriting this cancer.
- If one had radiation therapy initially, it increases their risk of lung cancer.
- If you are around an area where you have exposure to air pollution, asbestos, silica, dust, radon, etc., you risk lung cancer.
Treatment of lung cancer-
- Surgery- Your oncologist, might conduct an operation to remove the cancer tissues. They may even remove the lymph nodes to check for the signs of cancer present in them.
- Chemotherapy- If the cancer is spread beyond the lungs, then chemotherapy is an excellent option to treat lung cancer. The oncologists recommend medicines or insert the drugs in the veins, or they do both depending on the stage
- Radiation therapy- Oncologists use high-energy radiation, which is pretty much like X-rays, to kill cancer cells.
- Targeted therapy- Depending on the stage, the doctors may use targeted therapy in which they use drugs to either block the growth or spread of cancer.
How can I prevent lung cancer?
- Quit smoking- If you do not want lung cancer, immediately quit smoking. Tobacco and smoking are the leading causes of lung cancer. Even that one cigarette you are thinking of smoking can lead to a step closer to lung cancer.
- Diet- Eat a nutritious diet, including healthy fruits and vegetables. Try to eat fresh food rather than taking supplements for them.
- Radon check- Radon comes in second after smoking to cause lung cancer. You must ask your municipality office, or you can have a private assessment of radon levels in your area and do the needful for that.
- Regular exercise- Working out every day will also help you reduce the risk of lung cancer to a certain extent.
Lung Cancer is a significant cause of death in people. Unfortunately, too many people die fighting or overcoming lung cancer. It is time that we safeguard ourselves and our loved ones as well as protect society. So, this lung cancer awareness month, let us join our hands together and empower the ones who need us, who suffered or are suffering from lung cancer. Let us support their loved ones and spread awareness about it in society.
Content Reviewed by – Asian Hospital Medical Editors