Cancer causes otherwise healthy cells to grow out of control, that is, they grow too fast without dying off. Healthy cells die at a given stage in their life cycle but this does not happen with cancer, causing tumors to grow. Lung cancer is a cancer that starts in the lungs (American Cancer Society, 2019). Experts divide lung cancer into two primary types depending on the appearance of the cells under the microscope: non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. The former is an overall term used for several smaller types of lung cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma, large cell carcinoma, and adenocarcinoma. The latter almost exclusively affects heavy smokers and is less common.
- A family history of lung cancer: Individuals whose family tree has people that have had lung cancer are faced with a high risk of developing the disease.
- Smoking: The risk of developing lung cancer is directly related to the amount of smoking one does per day and the period one has smoked. Ceasing smoking at any given time greatly reduces this risk.
- Exposure to carcinogens like asbestos: Exposure to substances known to cause cancer like nickel, chromium or arsenic increases one’s chances of developing lung cancer, especially if they are smokers.
- Previous radiation therapy: People that have undergone chest radiation therapy for other types of cancer face an increased risk of developing this disease.
- Exposure to radon gas: High levels of radon increase the chances of developing lung cancer.
- Exposure to second-hand smoke: Non-smokers are faced with a high risk of developing this disease if they are exposed to second-hand smoke for prolonged periods.
- Weight loss even without trying;
- Horner syndrome;
- Finger clubbing;
- Hoarse voice;
- General fatigue;
- Shortness of breath.
Regular screening is good for people with a high risk of developing this disease. This process is done with a low dose CT scan (Nall, 2021). Screening is recommended for people that:
- Are aged between 55 and 80 years.
- Are smokers or stopped smoking within the last 15 years.
- Were heavy smokers for a long time; two packs daily for 15 years or one pack per day for 30 years.
Preventing Lung Cancer
- Quit smoking.
- Avoid radon exposure.
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Avoid secondhand smoke.
- Exercise multiple times in one week.
American Cancer Society. (2019). What is Lung Cancer? Cancer.org; American Cancer Society. Web.
Nall, R. (2021). Lung cancer: Symptoms, treatment, and early diagnosis. medicalnewstoday. Web.