67. Lung Cancer: How to Avoid a Killer

Once upon a time, before cigarettes were invented and air was polluted, lung cancer was unheard of. Today, it’s the leading cause of death from cancer in men and women. (About 150,000 Americans die from lung cancer each year, over 85 percent of them can thank cigarettes for the disease.) Since 1987, more women have died each year of lung cancer than breast cancer, which, for over 40 years, was the major cause of cancer death in women.

Lung cancer is especially deadly because the rich network of blood vessels that deliver oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body can also spread cancer very quickly. By the time it’s diagnosed, other organs may be affected.

Symptoms of lung cancer include:

  1. Chronic cough.

  2. Blood-streaked sputum.

  3. Shortness of breath.

  4. Wheezing.

  5. Chest discomfort with each breath.

  6. Weight loss.

  7. Fatigue.

Depending on the type of lung cancer and how far it’s spread, treatment includes the following: surgery; radiation therapy; and/or chemotherapy.

Lung cancer is difficult to detect in its early, more treatable stages, so the best way to combat the disease is to prevent it. As you might guess, eliminate the single greatest cause of lung cancer—smoking cigarettes. Avoid being exposed to secondhand smoke, too. (You should also avoid or limit exposure to environmental pollutants and asbestos.)

The risk of developing lung cancer is proportional to the number of cigarettes smoked per day. Anyone who smokes two or more packs of cigarettes a day, for instance, runs a risk nearly 25 times greater than that of a nonsmoker (which means that even smoking less than two packs a day still increases your chance of developing lung cancer). The longer a person smokes, and the more deeply the smoke is inhaled, the greater the risk of getting lung cancer.

Chapter 2
  1. Major Medical Conditions:

  2. Prevention, Detection, and Treatment