What are the risk factors for lung cancer?
The lung cancer is the second most common cancer in India among all male and female where most of the people die due to advance disease.
There are few important risk factors to develop lung cancer
At least 80% of lung cancer deaths are thought to result from smoking. The risk for lung cancer among smokers is many times higher than among non-smokers. The longer you smoke and the more packs a day you smoke, the greater your risk.
Cigar smoking and pipe smoking are almost as likely to cause lung cancer as cigarette smoking. Smoking low-tar or “light” cigarettes increases lung cancer risk as much as regular cigarettes do.
Second hand smoking:
Breathing in the smoke of others (called second hand smoke or environmental tobacco smoke or passive smoke) can increase your risk of developing lung cancer by about 30%. This reflects how a non-smoker can develop lung cancer.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that results from the breakdown of uranium in soil and rocks. It cannot be seen, tasted, or smelled. Radon is the leading cause among non-smokers. Radon gas given off by soil or rock can enter buildings through cracks in floors or walls; construction joints; or gaps in foundations around pipes, wires, or pumps. Radon levels are usually highest in the basement or crawl space. Outdoors, there is so little radon that it is not likely to be dangerous. But indoors, radon can be more concentrated. When it is breathed in, it enters the lungs, exposing them to small amounts of radiation. This may increase a person’s risk of lung cancer.
Workplace exposure to asbestos fibres is an important risk factor for lung cancer. Studies have found that people who work with asbestos (in some mines, mills, textile plants, places where insulation is used, shipyards, etc.) are several times more likely to die of lung cancer. In workers exposed to asbestos who also smoke, the lung cancer risk is much greater than even adding the risks from these exposures separately.
Other cancer-causing agents in the workplace:
Other carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) found in some workplaces that can increase lung cancer risk include:
- Radioactive ores such as uranium
- Inhaled chemicals or minerals such as arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, silica, vinyl chloride, nickel compounds, chromium compounds, coal products, mustard gas, and chloromethyl ethers
- Diesel exhaust
So if you work around these agents, you should be careful to limit your exposure whenever possible.
In cities, air pollution (especially near heavily trafficked roads) appears to raise the risk of lung cancer slightly. This risk is far less than the risk caused by smoking, but some researchers estimate that worldwide about 5% of all deaths from lung cancer may be due to outdoor air pollution.
Personal or family history of lung cancer:
If you have had lung cancer, you have a higher risk of developing another lung cancer. Brothers, sisters, and children of those who have had lung cancer may have a slightly higher risk of lung cancer themselves, especially if the relative was diagnosed at a younger age.
Prevention of lung cancer:
Not all lung cancers can be prevented, but there are some ways you can reduce your risk of getting lung cancer.
- The best way to reduce your risk of lung cancer is not to smoke and to avoid breathing in other people’s smoke.
If you stop smoking before a cancer develops, your damaged lung tissue gradually starts to repair itself. No matter what your age or how long you’ve smoked, quitting may lower your risk of lung cancer and help you live longer. People who stop smoking before age 50 cut their risk of dying in the next 15 years in half compared with those who continue to smoke.
- Limiting your exposure to second hand smoke might also help lower your risk of lung cancer, as well as some other cancers.
- Avoiding exposure to known cancer-causing chemicals, in the workplace and elsewhere, may also be helpful when people work where these exposures are common, they should be kept to a minimum. Be sure to follow proper safety procedures, such as wearing a respirator, if this applies at your workplace.
- A healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables may also help reduce your risk of lung cancer. Some evidence suggests that a diet high in fruits and vegetables may help protect against lung cancer in both smokers and non-smokers. But any positive effect of fruits and vegetables on lung cancer risk would be much less than the increased risk from smoking.
Signs and symptoms of lung cancer
Most lung cancers do not cause any symptoms until they have spread too far to be cured, but symptoms do occur in some people with early lung cancer. If you go to your doctor when you first notice symptoms, your cancer might be diagnosed at an earlier stage, when treatment is more likely to be effective.
The common symptoms of lung cancer are:
- A cough that does not go away or gets worse
- Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing
- New onset of wheezing
- Feeling tired or weakness
- Infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia that don’t go away or keep coming back
- Weight loss and loss of appetite
If lung cancer spreads to distant organs, it may cause:
- Bone pain (e.g, pain in the back or hips)
- Nervous system changes (presenting as headache, weakness or numbness of an arm or leg, dizziness, balance problems, or seizures), due to cancer spread to the brain or spinal cord.
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), from cancer spread to the liver
- Lumps on the surface of the body or neck, due to cancer spread to the skin or to lymph nodes (collections of immune system cells), such as those in the neck.
Most of the symptoms listed above are more likely to be caused by conditions other than lung cancer. Still, if you have any of these problems, it’s important to see your doctor right away so the cause can be found and treated.