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Cancer is the leading cause of death globally. As per the data, every year millions of lives are lost to various types of cancers. Some of the most common ones include - breast, prostate, and lung cancer. In this article, Dr.Dattatray Andure, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Onco Life Cancer Center, Satara, tells us more about lung cancer, and the various risk factors associated with this deadly disease.
Lung cancer occurs when lung cells grow abnormally uncontrollably, leading to the formation of a tumor. It is one of the deadliest forms of cancer which is categorized into two main types: non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC), with NSCLC being the most common. Symptoms of lung cancer may vary depending on its stage and type. In the early stages, there might not be any noticeable signs, making it crucial for individuals at high risk to undergo regular screenings. As the disease progresses, symptoms can include persistent coughing, chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, wheezing, recurrent respiratory infections like pneumonia or bronchitis, fatigue, or unexplained weight loss. It's important to note that these symptoms are not exclusive to lung cancer and could be caused by other conditions as well. It is crucial for individuals experiencing such symptoms to consult a doctor for appropriate evaluation and diagnosis.
These are the risk factors causing lung cancer: One often overlooked factor related to lung cancer is indoor air pollution. Most people are aware of the dangers of outdoor air pollution, such as exhaust fumes, smoke from factories, and smog, causing lung cancer. Remember that even indoor air pollution can also be harmful. Studies have shown that some individuals inherit certain gene mutations that make them more susceptible to developing lung cancer when exposed to carcinogens like tobacco smoke or environmental pollutants.
Smoking and exposure to chemicals can also cause lung cancer. Smokers are incredibly susceptible to developing lung cancer, as the harmful chemicals in cigarettes can damage the cells lining the lungs and lead to malignancy. Also, secondhand smoke is harmful. This means that even if you don't smoke yourself, simply being exposed to secondhand smoke on a regular basis can still increase your chances of developing lung cancer. Previous lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can increase the chances of lung cancer in smokers.
Even if you've been smoking for years, it's never too late to quit. Quitting smoking significantly reduces your risk of developing lung cancer over time. Non-smokers are not exempt from the risks of lung cancer as they can still be exposed to harmful toxins through secondhand smoke. If you don't smoke yourself but frequently find yourself around people who do, it's crucial to limit your exposure by seeking smoke-free environments whenever possible. Breathing polluted air filled with particles like soot, dust, or industrial pollutants increases the risk of developing respiratory conditions such as lung cancer over time. Ensure good ventilation at home.