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  Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S., with approximately 172,000 new cases diagnosed annually. Over 60% of new lung cancers are diagnosed in people who never smoked or who quit smoking decades prior to diagnosis. Recent studies indicate that female smokers may be more likely to develop lung cancer than male smokers. The number of lung cancer deaths among women surpasses those from breast cancer.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your risk of developing lung cancer include personal and family history of lung cancer, environmental carcinogens, smoking and second hand smoke. Studies also show that a woman’s body is more susceptible to cancer-causing substances than a man’s body.

Tobacco smoke causes more than eight out of 10 cases of lung cancer, which makes it the leading risk factor. The longer you smoke and the more packs per day, the greater the risk.

Asbestos, radon, air pollution, tuberculosis, certain types of pneumonia, and a poor diet can also increase your risk for lung cancer.

Warning Signs

Warning signs associated with lung cancer include persistent cough, shortness of breath, hoarseness, chest pain, coughing up blood, and recurrent bronchitis or pneumonia. If you have any of these symptoms it is important to see your physician for a complete medical exam and diagnostic testing.

Most people with early stage lung cancer do not have any symptoms, thus only a small percentage of lung cancers are discovered in the early stages. When lung cancer is found early, it is often because of tests being done for an unrelated health issue. Early detection of lung cancer can make a difference in treatment and recovery.

Prevention

The best way to prevent lung cancer is not to smoke and to avoid second hand smoke. If you already smoke, the sooner you quit, the better. Even if you have been smoking for many years, it's never too late to benefit from quitting.

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