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About Lung Cancer

What You Need To Know About Lung Cancer

Affecting both men and women, lung cancer is the second most common cancer (discounting skin cancer) and a leading cause of cancer death in both sexes according to the American Cancer Society. The good news: Many lung cancers can be prevented since they are related to smoking, second-hand smoke, and sometimes, radon exposure or other environmental factors.

There is no doubt that lung cancer can be a serious disease. But, those with lung cancer found at an early stage can be treated successfully. While signs and symptoms may not occur at an early stage, being proactive and knowing the risk factors can help you, and your doctor, determine if testing is needed.

Symptoms of Lung Cancer

Most lung cancers do not cause any symptoms until it spreads, but some individuals who are in the early stages may experience symptoms. The key is to alert your doctor to any symptoms you have early on, when treatment may be more effective.

Symptoms may include:

  • Persistent cough
  • Hoarseness
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Coughing up blood or discolored (“rusty”) sputum
  • Chest pain that worsens with coughing, deep breathing or laughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness or tired feeling
  • New episodes of wheezing
  • Persistent infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia

Risk Factors and Prevention

  • Smoking
  • Exposure to second-hand smoke
  • Exposure to radon
  • Exposure to asbestos and other types of chemicals and carcinogens
  • Family history of lung cancer

Prevention, then, may mean avoiding the items listed above (except family history, which cannot be controlled). For those individuals at a higher risk for lung cancer, a test called a Low Dose CT scan, becoming known as the "mammogram" of lung cancer testing, is available at the Excela Advanced Lung Center.

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