All About Lung Cancer

Did you know that lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women?

After years of research, we know that cancer is not the same for everyone. The word is used to describe a group of diseases in which normal cells change, grow and divide out of control. Cancer can also affect the tissue surrounding the cancerous mass and interfere with the functioning of organs, or break away from the original mass and spread to other parts of the body. (When this happens, it is called metastasis).

In the case of lung cancer, the cells of the tissue in the lungs grow unchecked. Despite the very serious outlook of lung cancer, some people with earlier stage cancers are cured. More than 430,000 people alive today have been diagnosed with lung cancer at some point.

Although most lung cancers do not cause any symptoms until they have spread, some people with early lung cancer do exhibit symptoms. Make an appointment with your doctor when you first notice symptoms; your cancer might be diagnosed at an earlier stage when treatment is more likely to be effective. Remember though, some lung cancer symptoms are similar to those of other common illnesses, so it is important to get screened.

The most common symptoms of lung cancer are:

  • A cough that does not go away or gets worse
  • Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum (spit or phlegm)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Recurring infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis
  • New onset of wheezing

If you are a smoker, stop now to lower your lung cancer risk. Smokers and former smokers make up more than half of new lung cancer cases, so the best thing to do is stop smoking. Other risk factors include secondhand smoke, radon, asbestos, air pollution and family history.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Should you need treatment or have any concerns, please call Saint Francis Hematology-Medical Oncology at 302.421.4860.

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