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How to Prevent Lung Cancer?
Lung Cancer Prevention Video - Brigham and Women's Hospital
How to Prevent Lung Cancer?
What is Lung Cancer?
Lung cancer is a distressing lung disease. Often lung cancer is diagnosed at an advanced stage and the patients suffer miserably. But it is also one of the easily preventable cancers. Let’s look at the lung cancer causes and try and understand what change in our lifestyle is to be brought out in order to minimise the risk of getting lung cancer. Causes of lung cancer include not only smoking but many other factors also, although a direct cause and effect relationship is established between smoking and lung cancer. Cancer prevention strategies for lung cancer should address all these risk factors.
Prevention of Cancer becomes difficult when people become habituated to beedi/cigarette smoking
Causes of Lung Cancer- Smoking
All forms of smoking like cigarettes, cigars, pipe and beedi are directly related to lung cancer. The risk of lung cancer from smoking increases with the number of cigarettes smoked per day and the number of years smoked.
People believe that filter cigarettes with low tar or nicotine has less risk than other cigarettes. There is not enough scientific data to support this thought. The risk of getting lung cancer increases if you drink alcohol and smoke.
Causes of Lung Cancer- Passive Smoking
Second hand smoking or passive smoking occurs when we inhale the smoke from a person who is smoking. It is an unhealthy practice to sit inside a room and smoke when you have other inhabitants who do not smoke. Second hand smoking is also directly related to the occurrence of lung cancer. Prevention of cancer becomes a challenge if you have smokers in a family who do not care about other members' health.
Causes of Lung Cancer- Family History
It is seen that the chance of getting lung cancer increases if you have a family member who have had lung cancer or who died of lung cancer. But whether it is because of the chance of second hand smoking or for genetic predispositions is not very clear. More scientific studies to analyse this familial tendency is essential for lung cancer prevention.
If the familial tendency is because of genetic reasons, prevention of cancer becomes difficult
The level of radon inside the mud houses is more than that in other typesof houses.
Causes of Lung Cancer- Radon Exposure
Exposure to radon: Radon is a radioactive gas produced from the breakdown of uranium in soil. Radon can enter the house through cracks in the walls, windows, water pipe line etc.
Not many studies are available in India to know the level of radon. A study conducted in Tehri Garhwal, India has shown that radon levels were found to be higher in mud houses than in cemented houses.
Lung cancer prevention may become a challenge if there is unacceptable levels of radon in the atmosphere.
Causes of Lung Cancer - Environmental Pollution
There is no doubt that the number of trees has drastically come down in the recent years and the rate of environmental pollution has increased. In India specifically, the number of buildings and construction are on the rise. We should think of keeping maximum number of indoor plants as well as to plant more trees in the open to reduce the carbon foot print. Planting and maintaining more trees may help in lung cancer prevention.
Cancer Prevention at Workplace
Workplace exposure to harmful substances like asbestos, arsenic, chromium, nickel, tar and soot etc. are also risk factors for the development of lung cancer and many other lung diseases. Measures should be taken by the authorities to minimise the exposure to these risk factors at workplace.
Lung Cancer Symptoms
Symptoms of lung cancer can initially be mistaken for any other lung disease.Excessive fatigue can be the earliest symptom of lung cancer. Breathing difficulty, blood tinged sputum, chest pain, frequent respiratory infections, worsening cough, hoarse voice and weight loss can be the other symptoms for lung cancer
Lung Cancer Symptoms: What To Look For
Lung Cancer Diagnosis
Physical examination is the first step in diagnosing lung cancer. The doctor may examine your chest, listen for the breath sounds using a stethoscope and feel for any swellings or enlarged lymphnodes. The doctor may order for tests like bronchoscopy, mediastinoscopy, sputum cytology etc. for the diagnosis of lung cancer.
Types of Lung Cancer
Based on the findings of these tests, lung cancer can be divided into two major types.
Small cell lung cancer- This type of lung cancer is not very common. Only 13 percents of lung cancers belong to this category. But these cancers grow aggressively and spread rapidly.
Non-small cell lung cancer –Remaining 83 percents of the lung cancers are non –small cell lung cancers. They grow slowly than the small cell variety.
Stages of Lung Cancer
Some more investigations like CT scan, bone scan, PET scan etc are done to know whether the cancer is limited to the lung or it has spread to the other organs of the body. Lung cancer stages are decided based on the involvement of the local structures and distant organs.
Treatment of Lung Cancer
Is lung cancer curable? This is the question asked by many patients and their family members. The answer is in negative especially if it is a small cell carcinoma. The five year survival rate for small cell lung carcinoma is lesser than non –small cell lung carcinoma.
Surgery for Lung Cancer
Lung cancer surgery is done if lung cancer is detected at an early stage and if it has not spread to the other parts of the body and if it is in an operable location. Surgery will remove the part of the lung affected by cancer and some of the nearby lymph nodes. A very small portion of the affected part or the entire lung may be removed during surgery depending on the extent of disease.
Lung Cancer Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy for lung cancer may use multiple drugs which are usually given in combination. A decision about the drugs is taken based on the stage of the disease and the general condition of the patient. Chemotherapeutic drugs specifically attack the rapidly dividing cancer cells; but during chemotherapy the patient may experience some severe side effects because the drugs attack other body cells which are rapidly dividing. These include bone marrow, hair follicles, inner mucosal layer of the gastrointestinal tract etc. Chemotherapy is given to treat the disease systemically.
Radiotherapy for Lung Cancer
Radiotherapy is the local treatment for lung cancer. It is usually given externally using a machine which can generate radioactive rays. Patient may experience fatigue, swallowing difficulty and skin changes as side effects of external beam radiation therapy for lung.
Enhance the protective factors for Lung Cancer Prevention
Exercise: If you can maintain the weight appropriate for your height and age, you will be free of many of the diseases including cancer. The exact mechanism by which exercises aid in lung cancer prevention is not very clear. But it is known that exercises decrease the oxidative stress and reduce the inflammatory changes secondary to fat deposition.
Healthy diet: Include enough quantities of fresh vegetables and fruits in the diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables have lot of antioxidants in them which may help in lung cancer prevention.