Lung cancer occurs when cells begin growing uncontrollably in the lungs. There are several factors that increase the risk of lung cancer. The biggest is smoking, which damages the cells in the lungs. An ICMR report states that cancers associated with tobacco use account for about 30% of all cancer in males and females.
Here are some other facts about this deadly disease that one should know of.
In the global scene, lung cancer poses as a leading cause of death. An Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) report titled “Lung cancer: Prevalent trends & emerging concepts” states that lung cancer is one of the most common cancers and the leading cause of cancer-related deaths world over. It accounts for 13 percent of all new cancer cases and 19 percent of cancer-related deaths worldwide. The same ICMR report states that by the year 2020, there will be a rise in the numbers and 1.04 lakh new lung cancer cases are likely to be added that year.
Both smokers and secondhand smokers have an equal risk of developing lung cancer. Non-smokers or passive smokers often inhale nicotine and other harmful chemicals exhaled by smokers around them. Additionally, polluted air and smog affect the lungs of non-smokers too. Besides being a risk factor for cancer, these can damage the lining of the arteries, increase plaque build-up and make arteries narrow. Loss of effective blood flow to the heart can cause cardiovascular diseases.
While the damage caused by lung cancer or diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) is often irreversible, lungs can repair themselves before these diseases strike. However, it is imperative to quit smoking. Within months of not smoking, and with a balanced diet and exercises that increase lung capacity, the body will experience better circulation and boost the way the lungs function. Shortness of breath and coughing if any, will decrease as well.
All tobacco products are unsafe. Products like pan masala and gutkha, often perceived as less dangerous when compared to cigarettes, harm the body equally. These products are the leading cause of cancer of the mouth and throat, commonly known as oral cancer.
Lung cancer at times does not show any signs or symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage. It is thus very important to visit a doctor and get screened if you notice signs like a stubborn cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, change in voice and unexplained weight loss.
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