November is the official month for Lung Cancer Awareness. It was originally a single day when it began in 1995. Both the community and the movement for Lung Cancer Awareness have grown exponentially. They have evolved into an entire month in which the community is dedicated to bringing awareness to this serious disease.
Lung Cancer Prevalence
Lung carcinoma remains the number one cause of death due to cancer in the United States. This applies to men and women. It exceeded breast cancer in female deaths in 1987. The next three most deadly cancers are breast, colon, and pancreatic. Lung cancer kills more individuals each year than these combined. The elder community within the U.S. is disproportionately affected by lung cancer.
- It has been projected that by the end of 2014 159,260 cases of lung cancer will result in death. This portion will then equal 27% of total cancer deaths.
- Between the years 1999 and 2010 lung cancer death tolls rose by 4.3%; this is from 152,156 to 158,318 deaths.
- The gender relationship in 2010 was 87,740 deaths in men and 87,740 in women.
- One study released a short number of years ago showed that an estimated 40% of lung cancer cases are diagnosed in individuals who are aged 70 or older.
- Another report published in 2013 stated that two thirds of cancer cases were diagnosed in those aged 65 or older.
Lung Cancer Causes and Symptoms
Smoking is thought to be one of, if not the, number one cause of lung cancer. This is smoking cigarettes or a pipe; however, the risk is dramatically increased with cigarette smoking as opposed to pipe smokers. The risk also increases with pack-year smoking history. The lung cancer risk from secondhand smoke rises 24% over incidents related to non-exposure.
Those who have worked with asbestos, but have never smoked, have an increased risk of lung cancer. The incidence in individuals who smoked as well as worked with asbestos rises by anywhere from 50 to 90 times. Lung cancer and mesothelioma have both been directly linked to asbestos exposure.
There are also individual genetic predisposition factors to take into consideration. Those whose relatives were diagnosed with lung cancer are more susceptible to this type of cancer regardless of whether they smoke or not. Medical researchers believe that a specific gene, human chromosome number 6, indicates a susceptibility to lung cancer in smokers.
- Coughing that worsen with time or simply cannot be cured, particularly if accompanied by hoarseness, is a sign of lung cancer.
- Coughing that expels bloody or rust tinted phlegm is of great concern.
- Chest pain, especially that worsens when breathing, laughing, and/or coughing is also a concern.
- Loss of appetite and/or weight often accompanies lung cancer.
- Feeling weak and/or tired are symptoms of lung cancer.
- Reoccurring or on-going infections such pneumonia and bronchitis are also signs that may indicate lung cancer.
Lung Cancer Treatment
An oncology surgical team decides between four basic courses of treatment of lung cancer. A thoracic surgeon generally leads this team. The options are chemo; radiation therapy; surgery, and/or targeted therapy. This decision is greatly impacted by the stage and form of cancer; associated side effects; current health condition; and patient preferences.
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