Do you smoke? Have you smoked? Even if you don’t, researchers say you have enough reasons to worry about lung cancer. Everyone, particularly, the first two, passive, non-smokers and people with genetic predisposition, are susceptible to developing the ailment, regarded as one of the greatest killers of the cancer group across the globe.
There is a growing need for everyone to be aware of the prevalence of lung cancer. The reason is not unconnected to the fact that every individual is susceptible to developing the ailment in one’s lifetime. For instance, whereas the chances of a man, smokers and non-smokers alike, developing lung cancer stands at 1 in 15, that of the woman is 1 in 17.
The case with Nigeria is rather troubling. With a population estimate of slightly over 200 million, the country is estimated to have an annual lung cancer incident record of 102,000 new cases with 72,000 recorded deaths. This is contained in the research conducted by Omolara Aminat Fatiregun, Omowunmi Bakare, […], and Adedayo Joseph of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Lagos.
In the US, lung cancer is responsible for about 25% cancer deaths where about 236,740 new cases, averaging 117,910 in men and 118,830 in women. Death rate stands at about 130,180 deaths, averaging 68,820 in men and 61,360 in women.
The reality above presupposes that indeed, there is a great need to know so much about lung cancer. As indicated earlier, it remains one of the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women across the world. Whereas smoking is said to be the most common cause, anyone, regardless of smoking history, can develop the ailment.
Two types of lung cancer have been identified. They are the Non-Small Cell and Small Cell Lung Cancer. The former, reported to be responsible for between 80 to 85 per cent of cases, originates from lung tissues. Remarkably, it grows and spreads slowly unlike other cancer forms. It addition, it comes in three variants-Squamous Cell Carcinoma, Adenocarcinoma and Large Cell Carcinoma.
On the other hand, the Small Cell Lung Cancer is described as the more aggressive or serious form given the fact that it cannot be detected early. When discovered, it is already on other organs. But like the Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer, it also comes in three variants-Small Cell Carcinoma, Mixed Small Cell/Large Cell and Combined Small Cell Carcinoma. And like other forms of cancers, lung cancer treatment and survival are depends on early detection. However, lung cancer treatment comes in various ways. They include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and or a multi dimensional approach involving the combination of the above listed approaches. Each approach is dependent on the stage of the ailment.
As indicated earlier, smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer. However, other causes, including exposure to secondhand smoke (in the case of passive smokers), asbestos, radon, and air pollution, have been recorded. Genetic predisposition is also another major factor as people with lung cancer family history have been researched to be at increased risk. One can lower the risk of lung cancer by turning one’s back on smoking just as one must avoid exposure to both carsinogenic materials and passive smoking. Experts insist that regular screening is important to treatment and survival.
What are the signs to look out for in lung cancer?
There are a number of give-away lung cancer signs. One of them is a cough bout that is consistent, will not go away but gets worse with time. According to experts, the cough results from cancerous cells in the lung that evolve into tumors pressing against airways and nerves, eliciting a chronic cough in the process.
They say the tumors induces cell inflammation and fluid buildup, two factors that further irritate the airways, resulting in cough. However, they insist that cough is not exclusive, as a cause, to lung cancer even as it is the commonest sign particularly when it fails to improve after a fortnight.
The other known cause include shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chest pain or discomfort and hoarseness or chronic bronchitis. Whatever the symptom is, it is important to seek quick medical attention.