November is a good month for cancer awareness. With the Mo’ Bros raising awareness of testicular and prostate cancer as part of Movember, it can be quite easy to miss the other big event; Lung Cancer Awareness Month.
Although most of us are aware that lung cancer can be a result of smoking, there are many other causes. The American Lung Association spoke to the Huffington Post to say “The bottom line is that no one deserves lung cancer -- and we must defeat the stigma to defeat the disease.”
By raising awareness of the causes and symptoms of lung cancer, Lung Cancer Awareness Month hopes to reduce the number of fatalities caused by the disease in the future.
So what are the causes?
Although nine out of ten lung cancer cases are caused by smoking, that means 10 per cent of cases aren’t. Aside from smoking, the main causes of lung cancer are exposure to chemicals such as radon and asbestos. If you’ve worked in the military, you may be at higher risk due to breathing in dioxins like Agent Orange and smoke from the battlefield.
Bad news if you spend a lot of time around smokers; you can develop lung cancer from breathing in second hand smoke. This doesn’t mean you should leave the pub with your face covered to avoid breathing in smoker’s smog. You have to be heavily exposed, so living with a 50 a day smoker for years.
Age and family history are also key players in whether or not someone develops lung cancer, which is why it’s more important than ever to visit the doctor for regular check ups as you get older.
And what are the symptoms?
Before the cancer spreads, the symptoms aren’t obvious. Coughing, bloody phlegm, getting short of breath, wheezing, a sore chest, fatigue and pneumonia are all signs that you may be developing lung cancer; but many of those can also be symptoms of flu, or the common cold. If you have a persistent cough that doesn’t go away on its own, it’s best to visit your doctor to be on the safe side. Coughing is a major symptom which has been found in 50 per cent of lung cancer cases.
If the cancer has just started to spread, the symptoms will be stronger. Hoarseness, painful swallowing, and a high pitched wheezing sound during breathing are identifiable at home. The other symptoms, excess fluid in the lining of the lungs and in the heart, will require a doctor’s visit to be discovered.
Although you should visit the doctor as soon as you think something’s wrong, understand that it’s never too late to get checked out. If you’re worried that you may have lung cancer, talk to someone. For a bit more advice we have put together a post looking at ways you can look to reduce the chances of contracting lung cancer.