According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the United States. It causes approximately 150,000 deaths each year while over 230,000 people are diagnosed with it annually. Thus, although it is not the most common type of cancer, it is undoubtedly one of the most lethal.
Although people generally understand the gravity of this condition, they are often unfamiliar with the basics. Meaning, they may not know the exact causes, symptoms, or even treatments. So, what are some of the basics that everyone should be familiar with when it comes to lung cancer?
Expectedly, the main reason why people get lung cancer is smoking. This is because smokers expose their lung cells to carcinogens that cause damage. In the long-run, continuing this practice leads to a severe condition like lung cancer. Dr. Alex Lechin, a pulmonologist, suggests abstaining from smoking as the first step towards a healthy lifestyle.
Of course, there is an abundance of patients who become victims of the disease without ever even lighting a cigarette. For those individuals, however, most common causes include second-hand smoke, air pollution, or exposure to radioactive gases.
A common denominator with all of the causes above is breathing. Meaning, lung cancer is almost always facilitated by an external gas that enters one’s body through their nose or mouth. Given that the outside air goes straight into the lungs, it is natural that they suffer the consequences of any potent particles.
As Dr. Alex Lechin mentions, the same condition often presents itself differently with various people. Meaning, one may struggle to find the exact pattern of symptoms that accompanies lung cancer. Sometimes, it shows through dull pain in the rib region. Then again, it can also be a very sharp pain in one’s chest.
Nevertheless, there is usually at least one symptom that the vast majority of patients will exhibit – a chronic cough. Given that lung cancer causes damage to one’s lung tissue, coughing often takes place. As far as the type, the cough will usually be chronic and somewhat dry. Serious cases, however, may even see some mucus or blood that is being pushed out of their system. Along with a cough comes breathing issues, which may or may not be a sign of cancer in an individual. As a precaution, Dr. Alex Lechin suggests to always seek the help of a medical professional for changes in breathing capabilities.
The most frightening aspect of lung cancer’s symptoms is their delay. In translation, most of the issues above do not show during the early stages. Consequently, people may be unaware of their condition until cancer grows and spreads. At that point, sadly, it can easily be too late to overwhelm the disease with treatment.
As with a lot of other cancers, chemotherapy is one of the most common approaches that many people utilize. It targets cancer cells and kills them before they are able to spread to the surrounding regions. Depending on how serious one’s condition is, which depends on the stage, doctors may also use radiation. This is another treatment where X-rays and other high-energy waves are used to kill the disease.
Other common approaches include immunotherapy, which implies training one’s immune system to respond to the disease, as well as surgery. Often, however, operation happens at the end when cancer has been reduced in size. That way, removing all of its cells is easier, and the risk of leaving any behind is lower.
Preventing Lung Cancer
Although experts like Dr. Alex Lechin often showcase many ways to live healthily, most people neglect these tips. Unfortunately, given that lung cancer is frequently caused by smoking, people tend to bring this condition upon themselves. To that end, the first and easiest way to reduce the risk is to avoid smoking. Even though this stresses the need for one not to smoke cigarettes themselves, it also means avoiding others who do. After all, second-hand smoke can also cause the development of the disease.
The next important way to mitigate the seriousness of this condition is to get annual checkups. These are scheduled controls where the patient is tested for a wide range of diseases. It is excellent for uncovering hidden issues that may not be showcasing any symptoms at the moment. Since lung cancer has a pattern of unrecognizable signs at first, looking for it proactively can help one uncover it early. Afterward, the treatment is much more likely to be useful given the limited growth of the disease.