There’s no way to sugarcoat it: lung cancer is one of the most aggressive and deadliest of all cancers. It’s the leading cancer killer in the United States, affecting about 1 in 13 men and 1 in 16 women.
But here’s the silver lining – lung cancer is highly preventable.
What is Lung Cancer?
Lung cancer is a disease that causes the growth of abnormal cells in the tissues on your lungs, and it usually affects the air passages of both lungs.
What are the Symptoms?
When the cancer cells get big and start to spread, a person may experience bloody coughs, breathing difficulties, loss of appetite, fatigue and recurring infections. Left untreated, it is almost always fatal.
Who’s at Risk?
Those who are at the highest risk for lung cancer include:
- Smokers (cigarettes, cigars, pipes)
- Quienes tienen antecedentes familiares de cáncer de pulmón.
- Personas con exposición prolongada al humo de segunda mano (humo de cigarrillos que otra gente fuma).
Anyone who’s ever been exposed to chemicals such as radon, asbestos, diesel
exhaust, and other workplace chemicals
When we say that people are at a higher risk for a disease, we mean that those people, due to some combination of lifestyle or family history, may be vulnerable. However, having several risk factors does not mean that you’ll get the disease – but also, sometimes people with no risk factors can get a disease, as well. That’s why it’s so important to work with your doctor and get regular screenings.
The Five Best Ways to Protect Yourself
Lung cancer has been called one of the most preventable cancers – because 80% to 90% of all cases are related to cigarette smoking. Here are a few of the ways you can cut your risk for this deadly disease.
1. Don’t Smoke – or if You Smoke, Quit
Smoking is the #1 factor for getting lung cancer, and there is no such thing as a “safe cigarette.” Even those that are advertised as low-tar, “light,” or menthol still have all the same cancer-causing chemicals.
Quitting smoking can drastically reduce your risks – in some cases, it can cut your risks in half. Ask your doctor for information on how break the habit for good.
2. Avoid Secondhand Smoke
Whenever and wherever you can, stay away from other people’s cigarettes, cigars, or pipes and make your home smoke free
3. Test Your Home for Radon
Radon is a naturally occurring gas that comes from rocks and dirt that can get trapped in houses and other buildings. You don’t need a specialist to test your home or building: many home improvement stores carry radon testing kits. Every year, the California Department of Public Health makes free radon testing kits available. Sign up to get one for 2019 or if you live in a rental property, ask your landlord.
4. Get Tested if You’re at Risk
If you’re a smoker, have a history of lung cancer in your family, or work with industrial chemicals, you should definitely talk to your doctor about testing options.
Early detection of lung cancer can be life-saving. The sooner your doctor identifies it the better they’re able to offer the right treatment.
5. Eat a Healthy Diet
This is great advice, even if you’re not at risk. A healthy diet that’s low in sugars and fats but high in whole grain, lean protein, and fresh produce can also reduce your risks for heart disease, diabetes, a variety of other cancers, and so much more.
So, take a deep breath…there are so many ways to protect yourself from lung cancer, and AltaMed is right behind you!