Lung cancer: you may look cool smoking, but one day you will want to breathe
Lung cancer can arise from inhaling chemicals on the job, but the most common cause is from smoking cigarettes.
Lung cancer is a common, yet preventable cause of death from cancer. It is the second most common cancer in men after prostate cancer and second most common cause of death from cancer in women after breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Shockingly, more people die from lung cancer than from colon, breast or prostate cancers combined, so it pays to know the symptoms of this cancer and to take some steps to decrease your risk factors.
Huff and puff: why lung cancer sucks
Your lungs perform the vital function of putting oxygen in your blood and ridding your body of the waste product, carbon dioxide. The most common form of lung cancer is called non-small cell, and it is broken down into three types: adenocarcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas and large-cell carcinomas. Each are found in different parts of the lungs. Adenocarcinomas are found in the outer lung tissues, while squamous cell carcinomas are found right in the center of the lung, usually by a main air tube, or bronchus. Large-cell carcinomas are found anywhere in the lung, and they tend to grow aggressively. Early lung cancer may have no symptoms, but some signs you might want to watch out for include a cough that does not go away, coughing up blood, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest pain and losing weight without trying.
Little cancer sticks: the causes of lung cancer
The real kicker about lung cancer is that it is avoidable with a lifestyle change. According to the American Cancer Society, 87 percent of lung cancer deaths are a result of smoking cigarettes. It's true that other causes for lung cancer exist, such as second-hand smoke, radon, asbestos and inhalation of chemicals in the workplace, but the truth is that most lung cancer is a result of smoking. Look at your lifestyle and decide if you want to lose the ability to breathe later in your life. You may already have trouble breathing now. It will get worse as lung cancer slowly takes hold of your lungs and robs you of breath. Eventually, the habit will rob you of life. Think about it. Quit today before lung cancer becomes your tomorrow.
Zap it or slice it: treating lung cancer isn't easy
Surgical treatment of lung cancer includes removing all or part of the lung in a surgical approach called a thoracotomy. This involved a large surgical incision in your back, approximately under your arm. You can have a pneumonectomy where your entire lung is removed, a lobectomy where only part of your lung is removed or a wedge resection where an even smaller part of the lung tissue is removed. Your ability to breathe after this surgery depends on how viable and healthy your lung tissue is to begin with and any underlying, non-cancerous lung disease you might have. Lymph nodes can also be removed at this time. Radiation and chemotherapy are often used in conjunction with surgery to ensure that all cancer cells are eliminated and that you have the best chances for remission. These two therapies are sometimes used to shrink tumors before surgery or sometimes as stand-alone treatments for smaller cancers or for patients who are a poor surgical risk.
- American Cancer Society; Lung Cancer (Non-Small Cell); September 2011
- PubMed Health; Lung Cancer – Non-Small Cell; David Zieve, MD, MHA and Yi-Bin Chen, MD; September 2010
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