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Lung Cancer – Detection & Prevention


Each year, more people die from lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. The key to beating lung cancer is early detection but it’s also vital that you practice prevention measures throughout your life.

Lung cancer typically doesn’t cause signs and symptoms in its earliest stages. Signs and symptoms of lung cancer typically occur only when the disease is advanced.

Signs and symptoms of lung cancer may include:

  • A new cough that doesn’t go away
  • Coughing up blood, even a small amount
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Hoarseness
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Bone pain
  • Headache

Lung cancer is divided into two major types based on its appearance under a microscope.

  • Small cell lung cancer: less common, occurs almost exclusively in heavy smokers
  • Non-small cell lung cancer: this includes squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma and large cell carcinoma

422 people die from lung cancer every day. In the US, cigarette smoking is linked to nearly 90% of lung cancer deaths. Using other tobacco products also puts you at a higher risk for lung cancer.

While not all lung cancers can be prevented there are a few steps you can take to reduce your risk.

First and foremost, stay away from any and all types of tobacco. This includes secondhand smoke. Check out this post for helpful tips on how to quit smoking.

Secondly, avoid exposure to cancer causing gasses and chemicals. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is a result of the breakdown of uranium in soil and rocks. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, radon is the 2ndleading cause of lung cancer in this country, just behind smoking. There are many non-naturally occurring chemicals that are often found in workplaces that could increase your risk of lung cancer.

These carcinogens include:

  • Asbestos
  • Arsenic
  • Beryllium
  • Cadmium
  • Silica
  • Vinyl Chloride
  • Nickel Compounds
  • Chromium Compounds
  • Coal Products
  • Mustard Gas
  • Diesel Exhaust

In recent years, the government has taken steps to protect workers from these harmful agents, but the dangers are still there. Be mindful of your environment and limit your exposure as much as possible.

Lastly, maintain a healthy lifestyle. A healthy diet with lots of fruits and veggies may reduce your risk of lung cancer.  Some evidence suggests that a diet high in fruits and vegetables may help protect against lung cancer in both smokers and non-smokers. A healthy diet cannot be replaced by vitamins or supplements, studies have shown people who took beta carotene supplements (a nutrient related to vitamin A) had an increased risk of lung cancer. Regular exercise also keeps your lungs healthy.

Whether you’re the picture of perfect health or you’re a smoker living off of cheeseburgers, it’s important to see your doctor at least once a year for a check-up.