Screening and Preventing Lung Cancer

Of all the cancer deaths in the United States, lung cancer remains one of the most deadly—for both men and women. Sadly, it is one of the easiest to prevent.

There are many known carcinogens and the surgeon general issues warnings on dangerous products. But, you may still wonder how does cancer start? Extended exposure to chemicals and other respiratory irritants can lead to cancerous growths. Transformations in the cells’ DNA takes place when smoking or asbestos exposure occurs and damages lung cells over time. This damage causes the cells to become cancerous.

Most cases of lung cancer are associated with the use of tobacco products. This all started in the early 1920s, when many men started smoking, who had not previously used tobacco. The result was an increase in lung cancer among those same men. For women, the 1940s not only brought more of them into the work place because of World War II, but also into the previously male-dominated world of smoking. Again, the same rising pattern of lung cancer was observed in new female smokers.

Testing for Lung Cancer

Sadly, lung cancer has no currently usable screening tests. It is argued that computed tomography, also known as CT scans, may find extremely minute tumors in time to extract them, giving a better chance of the patient’s survival. Unfortunately, a study printed in the Journal of The American Medical Association showed the ineffectiveness of screen tests on reducing the risk of disease advancement or death from lung cancer. This was the conclusion researchers came to: lung cancer screen tests are not encouraged for victims of lung cancer unless they experience signs of chest discomfort, constant coughing, or shortened breath.

There are no fool-proof options to screen for cancer in the lungs. Symptoms often go unnoticed and cases are rarely diagnosed until the disease has metastasized into other organs. Once cancer spreads, the chances of destroying the disease decrease dramatically.

Lung Cancer Prevention: Quit Smoking!

Although there are cases of lung cancer that can’t be traced to exposure to a carcinogen, these cases are relatively rare and lung cancer is considered a disease that can often be prevented simply by practicing good health habits.

For instance, it’s well established that smoking causes cancer. However, quitting before the age of 50 cuts one’s risk of dying in 15 years in half, in comparison to smokers. Never take antioxidant supplements to aid you while quitting smoking. Beta Carotene is one of those antioxidant supplements that can heighten the chance of lung cancer in women that smoke, according to one French study.

Although nicotine is still an extremely addictive substance, thousands of people have made the choice to quit, and so they have. Take the challenge, it will definitely lower your chances of getting lung cancer. Your doctor can help you battle smoking before it is too late.

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