Lung Cancer Awareness Month - Symptoms and Risk Factors

Lung Cancer Awareness Month - Symptoms and Risk Factors



November is lung cancer awareness month, an ideal time to learn about the potential causes and risk factors of the disease. About 221,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer every year, with 146,000 deaths yearly. Though lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, early diagnosis, and treatment can help cure the disease.

Types of Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is caused by abnormal and uncontrollable cell growth in one or both lungs. These cells invade nearby tissues and form tumors. Lung cancer can affect any part of the respiratory system and further spread to lymph nodes and other parts of the body.

Lung cancer is classified into two types based on the appearance of the cancer cells under the microscope:

  • Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)

    NSCLC is the uncontrolled growth of healthy cells in the lungs, forming a mass or lump. Non-small cell lung cancer types include adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.

  • Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC)

    It occurs mostly in heavy smokers and begins in the lung’s hormone-producing cells or nerve cells. It is less common than non-small cell lung cancer.

What Are the Risk Factors of Lung Cancer?

These factors may increase your risk of developing lung cancer:

  • Smoking

    - Smoking damages the lung cells and causes them to grow abnormally. Your risk significantly increases if you smoke heavily or for a long period of time.
  • Exposure to Secondhand Smoke

    - Your lung cancer risk increases even if you do not smoke but are exposed to someone who smokes.
  • Family History

    - If you have a family history of lung cancer, you are at an increased risk for the condition.
  • Radiation Therapy

    - If you have undergone radiation therapy for another type of cancer, you may have an increased risk of developing lung cancer.
  • Exposure to Asbestos

    - Workplace exposure to asbestos and other carcinogens such as nickel, chromium, and arsenic can increase your risk of lung cancer.
  • Exposure to Radon Gas

    - Exposure to radon gas increases your lung cancer risk.

Symptoms and Signs of Lung Cancer

Lung cancer patients typically do not experience any symptoms in the early stages. The symptoms begin only when the disease has become more advanced. These include:

  • Persistent or worsening cough
  • Coughing up blood or phlegm
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain (often worsens when you laugh, cough, or breathe deeply)
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Voice hoarseness
  • Wheezing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bone pain and weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache

How Can Lung Cancer Be Prevented?

Follow these tips to reduce your risk for lung cancer:

  • Quit smoking and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Test your home for radon gas, especially if you live around mountains and rocks. Ventilate your basements to reduce radon exposure.
  • Wear a face mask to protect yourself from exposure to toxic chemicals or gases at work.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Follow a diet that includes more fruits and vegetables.

Treatment for Lung Cancer at COHA

At Chesapeake Oncology Hematology Associates (COHA), we have experienced oncologists, like Yudhishtra Markan, MD, Gayatri Nimmagadda, MD, Arun Bhandari, MD, and Melissa Vyfhuis, MD to guide you through your diagnosis and lung cancer treatment.

Our specialists will recommend the following lung cancer treatments depending on your overall health, preferences, and the type and stage of your cancer.

  • Surgery

    Surgery can be recommended if your cancer is confined to your lungs. Your surgeon will remove the cancerous tissue and a margin of healthy tissue around it.

  • Radiation Therapy

    Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-ray beams to kill cancer cells. It can be used for early-stage and more advanced stage lung cancer and can also be combined with chemotherapy treatments.

  • Chemotherapy

    Chemotherapy uses oral or intravenous drugs to kill cancer cells. It can be used before surgery to shrink and easily remove cancer cells or destroy any remaining cancer cells after surgery. It is also used if surgery is not an option and often combined with radiation for more advanced lung cancers.

  • Immunotherapy

    Immunotherapy stimulates your body's own immune system to improve its ability to fight cancer. It is recommended for people with advanced lung cancers and cancers that have spread to other organs in the body.

Contact or schedule an appointment with us today if you are looking for experienced oncologists to treat your lung cancer. We are committed to providing the treatment and care you need.

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COHA is a leading group of oncologists that offer oncology services within Anne Arundel County, Howard County, and Queen Anne’s County, Maryland. We remain committed to bringing the best oncology and hematology services to the residents of this area. Our knowledge, skills, and experience will guide you toward the best treatment options for your health and lifestyle. We offer today’s most effective therapies, expertly and compassionately delivered in our infusion and medical centers.

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