Lung Cancer

Lung cells that change, divide, and expand out of control lead to lung cancer. Although anyone can develop lung cancer, investigations by medical organisations around the world have shown that smokers are 20 times more likely to develop the disease than non-smokers. After breast cancer, lung cancer is the most frequent type of cancer. Due to this illness, about 1.5 lakh people pass away every year.

Living with a smoker results in passive smoking, which is the inhalation of secondhand smoke. Lung cancer is also more likely to strike non-smokers. Passive smoke contains the chemicals and carcinogens that cause the cells to mutate, thus if you are around or live with a smoker, you are more likely to develop lung cancer.

What factors lead to lung cancer?

Several factors can lead to lung cancer. Tobacco and marijuana smokers, however, are more prone to exhibit the signs of this illness, according to studies. The most important factors are:

  • Smoking: There is no level of tobacco smoke exposure that is safe. Lung cancer risk is greatly elevated as a result of cigarette use. The likelihood of developing malignant cells is strongly correlated with the quantity of cigarettes you smoke each day and also depends on how long you've been smoking, measured in years. Even smoking pipes and cigars is harmful to your health. Even electronic cigarettes should not be considered safe. It is generally advisable to stop smoking as soon as possible.
  • Consuming second-hand smoke: There are about 7,000 chemical components in the smoke produced when tobacco is burned, of which 69 are known to stimulate cancer. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and nitrosamines are the two main carcinogens in tobacco smoke. Tobacco smoke is addictive because it contains nicotine. You run a 15–24% risk of developing lung cancer symptoms if you smoke passively or live near someone who does.
  • Radon gas: One breathes very little amounts of the naturally occurring element radon each day. The decay of uranium in rock, soil, and water releases radon into the atmosphere. You could be at risk if you are exposed to significant amounts of Radon gas for an extended period of time. The chance of developing lung cancer is considerably increased if you smoke in addition to inhaling high levels of radon gas.
  • Asbestos and Carcinogens: You run the chance of developing cancer if you are exposed to substances like nickel, chrome, and asbestos. People who deal with cement and building materials are more likely to get lung cancer as a result of these substances, and if you smoke, your chances of doing so increase even more.
  • Hereditary: Additionally, those who have a family history are more susceptible to this ailment than those who do not.
  • Existence of a lung condition: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one lung condition that is linked to a slightly elevated risk (four to six times the risk of a non-smoker) for the development of lung cancer.
  • Prior history of lung cancer: A second lung cancer is more likely to occur in persons who have already undergone treatment for non-small cell or small cell lung cancer.
  • Air toxicity: Lung cancer risk is also increased by ongoing air pollution exposure.

What signs or symptoms would lung cancer have?

The symptoms of lung cancer can vary depending on its type and stage at the time of discovery. The most typical signs are:

  • Ongoing cough
  • Blood in phlegm or spit
  • Chest pain
  • Breathing difficulties when performing daily tasks or climbing stairs, and recurrent pneumonia
  • Voice that is strained
  • Having a quick fatigue
  • Shedding pounds without cause
  • I don't feel like eating
  • If the illness extends to the bones, skeletal pain

Symptoms such as a headache, numbness, seizures, balance issues, and weakness in an arm or leg may appear if the disease has advanced to the brain.

If cancer spreads to the liver, it could cause jaundice or yellow skin.

A patient may exhibit just one symptom or a number of them. Since these are vague symptoms, it's possible that the patient will receive treatment for tuberculosis or another condition before being given the cancer diagnosis. So it is essential to have a high degree of mistrust, especially of smokers. It is advised to see a doctor to ask about medications that could help with the aforementioned symptoms and to obtain an early cancer diagnosis.

How can you prevent Lung cancer?

Those who haven't yet taken up smoking are urged not to do so. Smoking alone causes cancer in 16 different locations on the body, including the throat, mouth, tongue, lung, testicles, prostate, and thyroid. Additionally, people who continue smoking after receiving a cancer diagnosis have a higher risk of the disease returning following treatment. To prevent young children from succumbing to this habit out of ignorance or peer pressure, it is important to teach them about the negative effects of smoking.

It is never too late to stop smoking if you smoke. No level of smoking is safe, keep that in mind. Talk to your doctor about your alternatives for reducing the craving. As one stops smoking and gets rid of the dangerous poisons that have built up in their bodies over time, their chances of contracting lung cancer decrease. About 15 years after quitting smoking, the risk of developing lung cancer approaches that of a non-smoker, but the advantages of giving up smoking begin right away.

Refrain from being exposed to nickel, chromium, asbestos, and radon. Consult a doctor to discuss the precautions you might take to decrease the exposure if your line of work requires you to operate in their presence. These precautions could take the shape of physical apparatus that could shield you from the exposure or medications to reduce the symptoms. A nutritious diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables can help prevent the development of malignant cells in the lungs. Regular exercise is beneficial as well. If you don't currently exercise consistently, start off cautiously and work your way up to at least four out of seven days a week.

Dr. Gyanendra Agarwal
Department of Internal Medicine, Respiratory & Critical Care Medicine
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