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Suffering from Lung Cancer-It is not your fault!

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Clinical Directorate

Lung cancer

Suffering from Lung Cancer-It is not your fault!

Dr. Ranga Rao
Medical Oncology, Oncology / Cancer Care
Medical Oncology, Oncology / Cancer Care
Director - Medical Oncology

More than 25% of lung cancer cases are diagnosed across the world. Surprisingly, many of them have already quit smoking before it is discovered that they are suffering from the No. 1 disease.

Several patients think what went wrong when they are diagnosed with this detrimental disease. It is not required to blame these people because it will make the situations worse and difficult to handle. Rather it it is important that people should be made aware about the right way to approach this disease.

What causes Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer was not common prior to the 1930s but increased dramatically over the following decades as tobacco smoking increased. In many developing countries, the incidence of lung cancer is beginning to fall following public education about the dangers of cigarette smoking and the introduction of effective smoking-cessation programs. Nevertheless, lung cancer remains among the most common types of cancers in both men and women worldwide. The 3 causes are:

Smoking

The incidence of lung cancer is strongly correlated with cigarette smoking, with about 90% of lung cancers arising as a result of tobacco use. The risk of lung cancer increases with the number of cigarettes smoked and the time over which smoking has occurred.

Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemical compounds, many of which have been shown to be cancer-causing or carcinogenic. The two primary carcinogens in tobacco smoke are chemicals known as nitrosamines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Passive smoking

Passive smoking or the inhalation of tobacco smoke by nonsmokers who share living or working quarters with smokers, also is an established risk factor for the development of lung cancer. Research has shown that nonsmokers who reside with a smoker have a 24% increase in risk for developing lung cancer when compared with nonsmokers who do not reside with a smoker. The risk appears to increase with the degree of exposure (number of years exposed and number of cigarettes smoked by the household partner).

Asbestos fibers

Asbestos fibers are silicate fibers that can persist for a lifetime in lung tissue following exposure to asbestos. The workplace was a common source of exposure to asbestos fibers, as asbestos was widely used in the past as both thermal and acoustic insulation. Today, asbestos use is limited or banned in many countries.

What are the possible Symptoms of Lung Cancer?

There are no apparent symptoms at the time of diagnosis. Sometimes, the symptoms can occur from the cancer itself i.e from the metastatic spread of the cancer beyond its origin in the lung, or from paraneoplastic syndromes that results from the production of hormone-like substances. You can witness:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up blood

Other symptoms can be:

  • Shoulder pain
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Vision changes
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Seizures
  • Drastic weight loss

When should one consult a doctor?

One should consult a  best cancer specialist/oncologist if he or she develops the below symptoms:

  • A new persistent cough or worsening of an existing chronic cough,
  • Blood in the sputum,
  • Persistent bronchitis or repeated respiratory infections,
  • Chest pain,
  • Unexplained weight loss and/or fatigue,
  • Breathing difficulties such as shortness of breath or wheezing.

How can lung cancer be prevented?

- Cessation of smoking and eliminating exposure to tobacco smoke is the most important measure that can prevent lung cancer. Many products, such as nicotine gum, nicotine sprays, or nicotine inhalers, may be helpful to people trying to quit smoking.

- Minimizing exposure to passive smoking also is an effective preventive measure.

- Using a home radon test kit can identify and allow correction of increased radon levels in the home.

- Methods that allow early detection of cancers, such as the helical low-dose CT scan, also may be of value in the identification of small cancers that can be cured by surgical resection and prevented from becoming widespread, incurable, metastatic cancer.