Although annually lung cancer results in fewer new cases than skin,
prostate, and breast cancers, lung cancer accounts for more deaths. Lung
cancer is generally environmentally caused: Smoking is the number one
cause of this cancer: Men who smoke are 22 times more likely to develop
lung cancer. Women smokers are 12 times more likely.
Other, less frequent, environmental causes of lung cancer include
exposure to radon gas and asbestos.
The lungs' blood vessels may metastasize, often first attacking the
lymph nodes between the lungs in the middle of the chest.
Similarly, cancer that begins elsewhere in the body, such as a breast,
can spread to the lungs.
Early Detection & Prevention:Taking years to develop, once detected in
a smoker, lung disease is largely preventable or reversible: A smoker's
body often heals itself after he or she stops smoking.
If you feel you cannot stop smoking, you will improve your health by
cutting down on the tobacco you smoke or chew.
Symptoms: The American Lung Association says the symptoms vary
according to where the tumor is found. If the cancer is in the bronchi
it can cause a chronic cough, and may even cause bleeding when a person
If the tumor grows, it may fill the bronchus, preventing air from
passing in and out. This may cause wheezing, lung infections, or
A tumor on the outside of the lung often does not produce symptoms until
it is fairly large. Symptoms may be chest pain, caused by the tumor
growing into ribs or the chest wall muscle.
One job of the oncologist is to help patients understand the chances of
cure of cancer and what the physician can do to maintain the highest
quality of life for as long as possible. This often involves
encouraging people to make a knowledgeable choice of whether to undergo
Only one percent of the men developing prostate cancer die. In that
case, a man may decide to forego chemotherapy and treat it with milder
drugs. With breast and colon cancers, chemotherapy can improve the
survival rate by one third, and reduce recurrence. The newer
chemotherapies are not as tough on people as they were ten years ago. We
also have drugs to help prevent side of chemotherapy.
Support cannot be overemphasized when dealing with cancer, one of the
most traumatic events a person can experience. Ask your doctor, your
librarian, and your local American Cancer Society for contact info on
local support groups and free informative programs.
American Heart & Lung Institute
In Two Weeks
Shara becomes a Contributing Editor helming a new Section of the Sideroad!