Lung cancer stands as the third most prevalent form of cancer in the United States, claiming a substantial number of lives. Smoking remains the primary culprit, and despite available treatments like chemotherapy, many men succumb to this ruthless disease when it reaches an advanced stage beyond the reach of medical intervention.
Our lungs, essential and delicate organs designed for oxygen intake and carbon dioxide release, are crucial for our very existence. Yet, despite our best efforts to protect them, the polluted environments we inhabit and harmful habits like smoking can still put us at risk of a lung cancer diagnosis.
Lung cancer arises from the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells that form tumors within various parts of the lungs or airways. Notably, men who smoke aren't the sole victims; even lifelong non-smokers face a risk. The good news is that quitting smoking can significantly reduce the risk.
In its early stages, lung cancer often presents no noticeable symptoms. However, as it advances, certain signs become evident:
A persistent, unrelenting cough.
Coughing up even a small amount of blood.
Unexplained weight loss.
Risk Factors for Lung Cancer
It is a well-established fact that smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer in men. In the United States, smoking is linked to a staggering 80% to 90% of lung cancer deaths. Furthermore, the use of other tobacco products, such as cigars or pipes, also increases the risk of lung cancer, but quitting smoking markedly lowers this risk.
Passive smoking, or secondhand smoking, is another hidden threat. Inhaling the smoke from someone else's cigarettes, even while enjoying a coffee with a smoking friend, can lead to lung cancer and a painful death.
After smoking, radon is the second most significant cause of lung cancer. Radon, a colorless, odorless, and tasteless natural gas, forms in rocks, soil, and water. When it infiltrates homes through cracks or holes, it becomes trapped and mixes with the air. Those residing or working in such places inhale high levels of radon, which can lead to lung cancer over an extended period of time.
Lung cancer is a formidable adversary, often revealing its symptoms late in the game and frequently resulting in a painful demise. While treatments exist, they can be excruciating and do not always offer a cure. The most effective way to prevent this devastating disease is to refrain from smoking and steer clear of environments where you might passively inhale smoke from others.
Written by: Deepti Dogra
Edited by: Aniket Joshi