Lung Cancer Awareness Month is commemorated in November every year for raising awareness about one of the commonest causes of mortality worldwide. During this month, information about new research developments in the fight against lung cancer is shared on global platforms. Social media and charitable organisations hold events to celebrate the victorious survivors and remember those who have lost their battle against lung cancer.
Contrary to common belief, smoking is not the only cause of lung cancer. Smoke from other people’s cigarettes, pipes, or cigars (secondhand smoke), exposure to natural air pollutants such as Radon and workplace environmental pollutants such as arsenic, asbestos, silica, chromium and diesel exhaust have also been linked to lung cancer. Additionally individuals who smoke are at a higher risk of cancer if exposed to workplace pollutants. Cancer survivors who have received radiation therapy to the chest are also at an increased risk of lung cancer. Last but not least dietary supplements of beta carotene in smokers increase their risk of lung cancer.
SYMPTOMS of LUNG CANCER
Different people have different symptoms for lung cancer. Some symptoms are related to the lungs, but if the lung cancer has spread to other parts of the body (metastasised), symptoms are specific to that part of the body. Some people just have general symptoms of not feeling well. Most people with lung cancer may not have any symptoms until the cancer is advanced. The common symptoms to watch out for include:
• Coughing that gets worse or doesn’t go away.
• Chest pain.
• Shortness of breath.
• Coughing up blood.
• Feeling very tired all the time.
• Weight loss with no known cause.
lung cancer may sometimes present with repeated bouts of pneumonia and swollen or enlarged lymph nodes (glands) inside the chest in the area between the lungs.
Any of these symptoms should prompt individuals to seek medical advice.
lung cancer can’t be prevented but you can help lower your risk of lung cancer in the following ways
• Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoking causes about 80% to 90% of lung cancer deaths around the world . The most important thing you can do to prevent lung cancer is to not start smoking, or to quit if you smoke.
• Avoid secondhand smoke. Smoke from other people’s cigarettes, cigars, or pipes can cause cancer. Make your home and car smoke-free.
• Be careful at work. Health and safety guidelines in the workplace can help workers avoid carcinogens(things that can cause cancer).
The Government and local communities can play an important role in lowering lung cancer risk by using evidence-based approaches to—
• Reduce children’s access to tobacco products and e-cigarettes.
• Help people quit using tobacco products by opening “quit smoking” specialized clinics in the public sector hospitals.
• Help people avoid secondhand smoke by banning smoking in public places
• Encourage people to be screened for lung cancer as recommended by cancer specialists
• Community and religious leaders can play a major role in reducing lung cancer risks in the community by emphasising the need to quit smoking, in their sermons.
Dr. Saima Alam Afridi
Asst. Prof. & Consultant Asthma, Allergy and Chest diseases
Department of Pulmonology
Specialty : Allergy, asthma and chest diseases