Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow or divide out of control. When this happens in the cells of the Lungs, it is called Lung cancer and is the second most common cancer. In men, prostate cancer is more common, while in women breast cancer is more common. In 2021, there were about 2.2 million new cases recorded globally.
- Modifiable risks – can be reduced
- Smoking – the number one risk factor for lung cancer
- Environmental – inhalation of high radon levels over a long period of time or diesel exhaust
- Radiation exposure
- Exposure or inhalation of chemicals such as asbestos, arsenic
2. Non-modifiable risks
- Age – more common in older people
- Family history
- Sex – men have a greater risk of cancer than women
- Race – black men and women have greater risk than their white counterparts
Early on, there are typically no warning signs or symptoms. Lung cancer symptoms appear as the disease worsens.
Primary signs and symptoms include:
- A cough that persists after two or three weeks
- Repeatedly recurring chest infections
- Spitting blood
- Chest ache when inhaling, coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
Early screening for lung cancer increases the chance of diagnosis and early treatment.
The only recommended screening test for lung cancer is low-dose computed tomography, a Low-dose CT scan.
Who should be screened? Someone who…
- Have a 20-pack-year or more smoking history, and
- Smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years, and
- Are between 50 and 80 years old
A pack-year is smoking an average of one pack of cigarettes per day for one year. For example, a person could have a 20-pack-year history of smoking one pack a day for 20 years or two packs for 10 years.
Treatment of Lung Cancer
Depending on the type of lung cancer and how far it has gone, there are many treatment options. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of these treatments may be used to treat patients.
Surgery: A procedure where doctors remove cancerous tissue.
Chemotherapy: Uses unique medications to reduce or eradicate cancer.
Radiation treatment: Using X-ray-like high-energy radiation to eradicate cancer.
Targeted treatment: The use of medication to stop the development and spread of cancer cells.