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Tips To Cut Lung Cancer Risk

Quit smoking, maintain a healthy, balanced diet and practice breathing exercises to stay protected against this deadly disease

Dr. P. S. Dattatreya | Nov 30, 2020

November is marked as Lung Cancer Awareness Month worldwide, to build awareness about the deadly and most prevalent form of the disease. Lung cancer is considered to be the most diagnosed cancer, and according to GLOBOCAN 2018 data, India ranked 4th worldwide in the number of cases with a mortality rate of 63,475. Smoking tobacco, both cigarettes and beedis, is the major risk factor for cause of lung cancer in Indian men.

Here are some preventive measures which helps to combat the deadly disease at right time and understand the various key factors contributing to the disease.


Types of Lung Cancer

The two main types are small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Lung cancer types are categorized on how the cells look under a microscope. More than 80% of all lung cancers belong to the non-small cell type. The 3 major sub-types of non-small cell lung cancer are adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and large cell carcinoma.

Are you at risk of Lung Cancer?

Reasons why lung cancer is most common:

Smoking is one of the leading causes of lung cancer. About 80 per cent of total lung cancer deaths can be attributed to tobacco smoking, and many others to exposure to second-hand smoke or also known as passive smoking. Smoking also leads to other cancers like lip, oral cavity, head and neck, stomach, liver, pancreas, colon, rectum, bladder, kidney, cervix, blood, and cancer in the bone marrow.

Apart from smoking, exposure to carcinogens like asbestos, and exposure to chemical carcinogens are also linked to lung cancer. Further, exposure to air pollution and other climatic emergencies also leads to a rise in risk of diseases such as lung cancer, asthma and COPD.

Certain risk factors for lung cancer like air pollution and being exposed to pollutants also result in changes in the DNA of lung cells. These changes lead to abnormal growth of cells in the lungs, and cause cancer. Second-hand smoke also spikes genetic changes.

Symptoms you should not ignore:

The symptoms of lung cancer usually do not appear at the early stage. It starts off with symptoms like persistent cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, loss of appetite, fatigue etc. So, if you are a smoker and feel any of the above symptoms, consult to a doctor immediately.

Difficulty in swallowing, hoarseness in voice, swelling in the neck caused by enlarged lymph nodes, repeated attacks of pneumonia, pain under the ribs on the right side comes under advanced symptom of lung cancer.

Lifestyle changes that helps to prevent lung cancer

Lung cancer is preventable with few healthy lifestyle tips that will help reduce the risk as well. With smoking being the leading risk factor, it is best to quit smoking and not engage in passive smoking as well. Even if you do not smoke, standing around people who are smoking is also harmful.

Air pollution is a serious health issue in India and with certain parts of India witnessing bad air quality currently, it is worrisome as it impacts breathing and triggers respiratory irritation. So, it is advised to always wear a maskwhen stepping outdoors to keep you safe. Also, stick to a healthy, balanced diet and regularly practice breathing exercises as it help to keep the lungs disease-free

Treatment options for lung cancer

The choice of treatment depends mainly on the type of lung cancer and its stage. People with lung cancer may chose to go through surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of treatments. People should talk to their Oncologist who can provide a more accurate prognosis, considering the individual’s overall health and the extent of their cancer.

(Author is a Medical Oncologist, Omega Hospitals, Hyderabad)