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This Month In Health
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  • Need to Breathe
    Across the world, lung cancer is the most common cancer, alongside breast cancer. While smoking is the greatest risk factor, hundreds of people who’ve never smoked develop lung cancer. Read on to learn more about this dreaded disease. Read >>
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    Across the world, lung cancer is the most common cancer, alongside breast cancer. While smoking is the greatest risk factor, hundreds of people who’ve never smoked develop lung cancer. Read on to learn more about this dreaded disease. Read >>
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Health and Fitness News

Need to Breathe

Lung cancer claims more lives than any other cancer. Get the facts here.

Your lungs are responsible for breathing in oxygen, passing that oxygen to your blood, and releasing carbon dioxide as you exhale. Lung cancer, like other cancers, is the growth of abnormal cells. Because they’re not normal lung cells, they don’t do what healthy lung cells are supposed to do, and as tumors form, they affect the lungs’ ability to breathe and deliver oxygen.

Across the world, lung cancer is the most common cancer, alongside breast cancer. In the United States, more people die of lung cancer than they do of breast, colon, prostate, and ovarian cancers combined. And it’s a common misconception to think that smoking causes all cases of lung cancer. While smoking is the greatest risk factor, hundreds of people who’ve never smoked develop lung cancer. Read on to learn more about this dreaded disease.

Breathtaking Symptoms

People rarely have symptoms in the early stages of lung cancer. Because the lungs are large organs, it can take a while for symptoms to present. As the disease progresses over the course of months or years, a persistent cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, loss of appetite, back pain, and hoarseness develop. The sufferer may cough up blood, have recurrent pneumonia or bronchitis, or lose weight without trying. If the cancer spreads to other parts of the body, additional symptoms may set in. See a physician if you experience unusual symptoms that won’t go away.

Carcinogenic Causes

Smoking causes the vast majority of lung cancer cases. Both smokers and those exposed to secondhand smoke are at risk. The carcinogens found in cigarette smoke damage healthy lung tissue, causing abnormal cells to form. The longer you smoke and the more you smoke, the greater your risk.

Unfortunately, smoking isn’t the only risk to avoid. Radon gas is another common cause of lung cancer. A naturally occurring gas made from the breakdown of uranium in rock, soil, and water under homes and buildings, radon is an invisible, odorless gas that may become trapped in your home and breathed in day after day. Exposure to asbestos, chromium, nickel, or arsenic in the home or workplace can also lead to lung cancer. And sometimes, there’s no clear cause of lung cancer.

Types, Stages, and Treatments

When you have lung cancer, it’s either non-small cell lung cancer or small cell lung cancer. Most common is non-small cell, with 85 percent of lung cancers being this type.

Once your type of lung cancer is determined, it is categorized into stages one through four. Stage one is the least invasive and most easily treated, while stage four means the cancer has spread to both lungs or other parts of the body. This type is most advanced and hardest to treat.

Treatment of any lung cancer depends on the type and stage, but typically includes surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, targeted treatments, or a combination of these options.

Preventing the Problem

The best way to prevent lung cancer is not to smoke. If you’ve never smoked, don’t start now. Educate your children on the dangers of smoking, and avoid being around people who smoke to prevent breathing in secondhand smoke. People who do smoke can get help to quit. Remember, it’s never too late to quit smoking, and as soon as you do, your lungs begin to heal and your risk for lung cancer starts to drop.

Additionally, you should get your home tested for radon. You can hire someone to do this or purchase your own do-it-yourself test kit. Home repairs may be needed if your test reveals high levels. An easy way to lower levels of radon is to open your home windows and doors more often. This won’t fix the problem altogether but it will help.

Also, be careful on the job. If you’re around toxic chemicals at work, be sure to take the proper precautions to avoid exposure. And as with every other disease, you can lower your risk of lung cancer by eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.