Lung Cancer Overview
November is Lung Cancer Awareness month and is the leading cancer killer of men and women in the United States. Avni Jain, MD, a family medicine physician with Adventist HealthCare Adventist Medical Group, shares some facts about lung cancer.
What is lung cancer?
Lung cancer occurs when cells in the body start to grow uncontrollably within the lungs. Typically, this type of cancer begins in the cells that line the tubes called bronchi, bronchioles which are small branches within the lungs or very small air sacks called alveoli.
Who is at risk for lung cancer?
People who smoke are most at-risk for lung cancer, but there are several other risk factors as well. These include, exposure to second hand smoke, asbestos or radon. Having a personal or family history of lung cancer and previous radiation therapy to the lungs can also increase a person’s risk for lung cancer.
How can I lower my risk for lung cancer?
While you can’t change some risk factors like your family history, there are others you can change, including quitting smoking. The effects of quitting smoking overtime can actually lower your risk of lung cancer, but it will still be higher than someone who has never smoked.
Although it’s not easy, some tips to help you quit smoking include:
· Having a support system
· Knowing and understanding the reason why you’re quitting
· Learning how to handle triggers and cravings with other activities like exercise, chewing gum and drinking water
· Becoming familiar with possible withdrawal symptoms
Are there screenings for lung cancer?
A yearly, low-dose CT scan is recommended as a lung cancer screening for those who have smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years or two packs of cigarettes a day for 10 years, people who currently smoke or have smoked within the past 15 years and men and women who are between the ages of 50 and 80. If you are not high risk for lung cancer, screening is not recommended.