Lung Cancer Risk Factors and Symptoms

Are you at Risk of Lung Cancer?

Smoking is the leading risk factor for lung cancer. Around 90% of lung cancers can be prevented if smoking is avoided. Other risk factors of this cancer include:

  • Genes and family history

A personal or family history of lung cancer increases an individual’s likelihood of developing the condition. This shows that genetics plays a role in lung cancer development in families with a strong history.

  • Occupational exposure

Exposure to harmful or hazardous chemicals at the workplace may increase one’s risk for lung cancer. Exposure to uranium or inhaling chemicals like arsenic, cadmium, silica, vinyl chloride, nickel and chromium compounds, coal products, and diesel exhaust can increase your risk for lung cancer. 

People who work in mines, mills, textile industry and shipyards are constantly exposed to asbestos which increases their risk of developing mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer. 

  • Exposure to second-hand smoke

Though smoking remains the leading risk factor for lung cancer, exposure to second-hand smoke can also increase your risk for the condition.

  • Environmental pollution

Researchers believe that nearly 5% of all lung cancers worldwide occur due to environmental pollution. The pollutants released into the air in the world’s most polluted towns and cities can increase the risk of lung cancer in people living there.

Lung Cancer Symptoms

The symptoms of lung cancer vary for each individual and depend upon its stage and extent of spread. In its early stages, lung cancer rarely causes symptoms. As the disease progresses, common symptoms you may experience include:

  • A persistent cough 
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing blood
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Weight loss with no apparent cause

Can Lung Cancer Risks be Reduced?

The risk for lung cancer can be reduced in the following ways:

  • By quitting smoking
  • Avoiding second-hand smoke by making your home and car smoke-free
  • Quitting tobacco in all its forms
  • Reducing exposure to radon
  • Using appropriate masks to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals in people who work in high-risk places
  • Undergoing regular lung cancer screening

Why Should You Get Tested?

Detecting lung cancer early gives doctors the best chance to treat it completely. However, since lung cancer symptoms do not appear until the disease has progressed, most lung cancers are hard to treat. So, undergoing lung cancer screening helps catch the disease very early, even before the symptoms appear, enabling complete, life-saving treatments. 

Screening for lung cancer is recommended in people between 55 and 80 and/or with a smoking history (at least one pack for 30 years). 

If you feel you have a high risk for lung cancer, speak to your doctor about the same.

How to Get Tested?

Chest x-rays are the standard for testing and detecting lung cancer. Though traditional x-rays offer low-resolution images of your lungs and chest cavity, advanced diagnostic tests like CT scans or x-rays from multiple angles are more helpful.

Get Tested Today!

Though you may have quit smoking years ago or lived with someone who has, it is essential to undergo routine screenings for lung cancer. Discuss with your doctor about assessing your risk for lung cancer, and get tested today!

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