It would be incredibly difficult to find a person who isn’t aware of lung cancer, and unless they smoke, chances are it is one of the furthest concerns in their mind. However, this perception might not be without its fault, and the reason can be found in the numbers.
While smoking does increase your chance of getting lung cancer, the numbers don’t just reflect people who do smoke, meaning that lung cancer is still the second most common cancer among men and women, and it still accounts for 14 percent of all new cancers.
This year alone there will be nearly 250,000 diagnosis of lung cancer among men and women in the United States alone. On top of that, another 160,000 will lose the battle to this devastating disease.
Lung cancer is not a young person’s disease, with less than 2 percent of cases occurring in people below the age of 45 and 2/3 of diagnosis being in people 65 years or older. Men are slightly more likely to contract lung cancer than women, come in at 1 in 16 to 13 in 1 respectively.
There many contributing risk factor associated with lung cancer. These include smoking, either directly or exposure to second-hand smoke, hazardous chemical exposure, certain environmental exposures, genetics, and existing cancer.
Sadly, along with the terrible side-effects of lung cancer comes a less than optimistic survival rate. Five-year rate for locally detected lung cancer (still in the lungs) is 54 percent. However, that number is further cut down when you take into account that only 15 percent of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at this early stage. If the cancer metastasizes and spreads to distant tumors (other organs), the five-year survival rate drops to a paltry 4 percent.
It is given these numbers that lung cancer, like all other cancers, need to be detected early in order to increase the likelihood of survival. However, the difficulty in this arises when people are unfamiliar with what the signs and symptoms are that they should be looking out for. As if to compound it further and make it more difficult, many of the symptoms can be attributed to other sicknesses, resulting in potentially fatal misdiagnosis.
Thankfully, mortally rates have been dropping in recent years as a result of healthier lifestyle and early detection. To aid in that effort, we have compiled her 10 of the most common signs and symptoms of lung cancer, so that you can be aware of what to look out for, knowing how important early detection is.
A bad, hacking cough is perhaps the hallmark symptom of lung cancer, but it would also to be prudent to note that it is also the same of a cold, flu, chest infection, pneumonia, etc. Come to think of it, most people don’t ever think ‘maybe its cancer’ after a coughing fit. But if it starts to become prolonged, it might be worth a trip to the doctors.
While in the vast majority of cases, coughs are caused by colds and flus or other non cancer-related symptoms, it can still be a sign of its presence. Be on the look out for dry, painful cough, and not if you notice any blood or mucus manifesting in presence of phlegm. Anytime you notice blood where there shouldn't be blood, it should warrant an automatic trip to the doctor.
Another reason that lung cancer is difficult to diagnosis is that coughing is often a very seasonable response to people. What this means is it is easy to misdiagnose during winter months or attributed it to allergies in the warmer months. This further compounds the difficulty of early detection.