Lung cancer- Get your facts right!

  • By Dr. T Deepa Porkodi

Pollution is also a major cause for lung cancer. Though not as bad as smoking, living in extreme pollution is enough to give you lung cancer.

Here are some facts that you should be aware of:

  1. Lung Cancer affects only smokers.
    Majority of smokers that develop lung cancer are ex-smokers. In fact, 10% of people overall and 20% of women who develop lung cancer, are indeed non-smokers!
    It may be believed that since more and more people are waking up to the ill-effects of smoking and there are fewer smokers today, lung cancer cases are on the decline. This is not true.
  2. Lung cancer in women is not as common as breast cancer.
    Lung cancer is an equal opportunity disease. Nearly half of lung cancer cases occur in women and more women die from lung cancer than any other form of cancer. As per the most recent statistics, in 2005 69,078 women died from lung cancer, whereas 41,116 died from breast cancer.
  3. There is nothing I can do to lower my risk of lung cancer!
    Avoiding smoking can lower your risk of developing lung cancer. An awareness of other factors that may raise or lower your risks is helpful as well. Some environmental exposures can raise your risk , whereas occupational exposures account for 13% to 29% of lung cancer in men. On the brighter side, healthy and regular diets can also help lower the risks.
  4. It’s nothing. Just smoker’s cough!
    You need proper investigations. Persistent cough could mean some serious underlying pathology/disease.
  5. I do not smoke, I won’t get lung cancer!
    Not really. Smoking may be the major cause for lung diseases, but there are other factors like occupational exposure to substances like silica and asbestos, inhaling second hand smoke and living in an extremely polluted city that can increase your chances of developing this disease.
  6. I am too young to get lung cancer!
    Lung cancer can strike at any age. Though commonly seen in older people, it is seen widely in young children too. A type of lung cancer called Bronchoalveloar cancer, affects young non-smoking women in particular.
  7. Lung cancer can’t be treated!
    This myth is widely prevalent due to the ignorance surrounding the disease. If detected early enough, lung cancer can be effectively treated with medications, chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. In fact, the survival rates are as high as 85%.
  8. I don’t have any symptoms. How can I have lung cancer?
    Lung cancer symptoms don’t show up in the early stages. Lung cancer is detected through routine x-rays and CT scans.
  9. My blood test reports are normal. So I don’t have lung cancer.
    Lung cancer isn’t detected via blood tests. An open lung biopsy, needle biopsy or a bronchoscopy alone, can detect it.
  10. Since I already have lung cancer, I don’t need to quit smoking!
    Smoking will only damage your tissue more. Your lungs won’t respond to any treatment. It would be advisable to quit smoking and give the lung tissues a chance to heal.