More people die from lung cancer than from any other type of cancer. While many people think that smokers are the only ones at risk, lung cancer affects smokers and nonsmokers alike. Exposure to asbestos and radiation, as well as smoking tobacco products or exposure to second-hand smoke, contribute to the disease.
Causes and Risk Factors
Smoking is the leading risk factor for developing lung cancer, and is accountable for almost 90 percent of all lung cancer cases. A smoker’s risk for getting lung cancer is 30 times greater than the risk of a non-smoker. In addition to smoking, lung cancer can be caused by several factors, including exposure to:
- Lung disease
- Secondhand smoke
Signs and Symptoms
Catching lung cancer early gives you the best chance of survival, and recognizing the symptoms is the first step. The most common symptom is a persistent cough that worsens over time. Other common symptoms associated with lung cancer include:
- Constant chest pain
- Blood-tinged spit
- Coughing up blood
- Shortness of breath, wheezing or hoarseness
- Repeat occurrences of infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis
- Fever for no apparent reason
- Swelling of the neck and face
- Loss of weight due to a decrease in appetite
Researchers continue to study the causes of lung cancer and ways to prevent it. Smoking tobacco products remains the number-one cause of lung cancer, while not smoking remains the number-one preventative measure. Quitting smoking at any age can lower your chances of getting lung cancer.
The lung cancer survival rate has consistently hovered around 15 percent since 1995. With several new drug developments and earlier detection rates, however, survival rates of lung cancer patients are rising. Keep an eye out for the symptoms, and consider having a CT scan to aid in early detection.
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