Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, 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.
Tobacco smoke (including secondhand) causes more than eight out of 10 cases of lung cancer. The longer you smoke and the more packs per day, the greater the risk.
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.
Warning signs associated with lung cancer include:
- Persistent cough
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Coughing up blood
- 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. Because of this, 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.
The best way to prevent lung cancer is not to smoke and to avoid secondhand smoke.
If you already smoke, quit. Mid Coast Hospital has tobacco education and cessation programs to assist you. Even if you have been smoking for many years, it is never too late to benefit from quitting.