You might not know this, but lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among men and women. While the survival rate for lung cancer has increased over the years, it's still only about 18%. This is significant because most cases are not caught early enough. The good news is there are things one can do to reduce their chances of lung cancer before it starts. In this blog, we will explore 10 ways to do that.
What is Lung Cancer?
Lung cancer is a kind of cancer that begins in the lungs. The lungs are made up of tiny, thin-walled sacs called alveoli, surrounded by a network of tiny blood vessels called capillaries. These alveoli and capillaries form a system known as pulmonary circulation.
Cancer occurs when cells in the body divide uncontrollably. Lung cancer begins when these abnormal cells grow in the lung's tissues; these cells can spread through the blood vessels, lymphatic system and other body parts like the brain, liver, or bones.
Are there different kinds of lung cancer?
There are two main types of lung cancer: non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common cancer, accounting for about 85% of all cases. It typically grows slower than SCLC and is less likely to spread to other body parts. SCLC is less common but more aggressive, grows quickly and spreads more easily to other organs. SCLC is also less common, accounting for the remaining 15%.
NSCLC can be further divided into four subtypes: squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, large cell carcinoma, and bronchoalveolar carcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma starts in the flat, thin cells lining the air passages of the lungs. Adenocarcinoma starts in the glandular cells that produce mucus. Large cell carcinoma can begin in any lung cell. Bronchoalveolar carcinoma is an adenocarcinoma that starts in the alveoli (air sacs).
SCLC is divided into two subtypes: oat cell carcinoma and combined small cell carcinoma. Oat cell carcinomas are more common in men than women and usually occur in smokers over 50. Combined small cell carcinomas are a mix of oat and non-oat cell tumors.
Can I prevent my chances of lung cancer?
Smoking cigarettes is the most important risk factor for developing lung cancer, but there are ways to reduce the chances of it before it starts. Here are some ways to prevent lung cancer:
1. Don't smoke cigarettes or use tobacco products. If you currently smoke, quitting is the best way to reduce your risk of developing lung cancer.
2. Avoid secondhand smoke. If you live or work with someone who smokes, avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
3. Limit your exposure to air pollution and other airborne particles. While you can't always avoid exposure to air pollution, you can limit your exposure by staying inside on days when air pollution levels are high and avoiding areas with a lot of traffic or industrial activity.
4. Eat a healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce your risk of developing lung cancer.
5. Regular exercise benefits general health and reduces the risk of developing lung cancer.
Are there ways to detect lung cancer?
Lung cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer, but the good news is that the chances of lung cancer can be reduced, and early detection is key to preventing this disease.
There are several ways to detect lung cancer early, including:
1. CT Scans: A CT scan is an X-ray procedure that produces detailed images of the lungs. CT scans can often detect cancers that are too small to be seen on a standard chest X-ray.
2. Sputum Cytology: This test involves examining a sample of mucus coughed up from the lungs under a microscope for abnormal cells.
3. Low-Dose CT Screening: This screening test uses special low-dose X-rays to take multiple pictures of the lungs. It is recommended for current and former smokers between ages 55 to 80 who have smoked for at least 30 pack years (one pack-year equals 20 cigarettes per day for one year).
4. Pulmonary Function Tests: These tests measure how well the lungs can move air in and out and how well they exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. Pulmonary function tests can sometimes reveal early signs of lung cancer.
5. Chest X-Ray: A chest X-ray is a painless test that produces images of the lungs and heart.
What are some symptoms of lung cancer?
If you feel you have any symptoms of lung cancer, it is important to see a doctor right away. Early detection is key to successful treatment, do not delay getting checked out.
Common symptoms of lung cancer include:
-A new cough that doesn't go away or a change in an existing cough
-Coughing up blood, even a small amount
-Shortness of breath
-Losing weight without trying
Lung cancer is a serious disease that takes the lives of several thousands of people every year. One can do things to help reduce its chances before it starts. We hope that our tips
have helped you learn how to protect your lungs and keep them healthy for years to come.
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