November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, which gives the professionals at Health & Wellmobile and other medical facilities an opportunity to bring attention to the leading cause of cancer deaths. Every year, thousands of people are diagnosed with the disease, which starts in the lungs and has the deadly potential to spread to nearby areas in your chest.
One of the best ways to protect yourself and your loved ones and, if necessary, prepare for treatment is to become educated. An understanding of your body will help you stay healthier and cope with your cancer, and early detection can even save lives. Here are some of the basics of lung cancer that you should know.
Causes and Risk Factors
When you breathe in toxins and unhealthy air, you put yourself at a greater risk of developing lung cancer. Well over half of all lung cancer cases are caused by cigarette smoke. This is not just true for smokers, but also for those who have significant exposure to secondhand smoke. Other risk factors include breathing in asbestos, carcinogens, or radon. In some instances, exposure comes from a dangerous work or home environment.
Symptoms and Signs
Symptoms and signs to watch for include wheezing, chest pain, coughing (sometimes with blood), headaches, and difficulty breathing comfortably. Be aware that symptoms often don’t become obvious until the cancer is already past its earliest stages. If your lifestyle puts you in dangerous breathing conditions, consider regularly scheduling checkups to ensure that everything looks all right.
Each case of lung cancer is different, requiring personalized treatment plans designed by your doctors. Common treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and several types of surgery. Additionally, you may want to seek out a counselor or support group to help you process your situation and move forward as positively as possible.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to fully prevent lung cancer at this point, but you can certainly take measures to reduce your risk. For example, you can stop smoking and take care to avoid exposure to hazardous materials. As with many health problems, eating right and getting exercise can help give your body added protection.