Get the Facts: Lung Cancer
Focused on Health - November 2008
By Rachel Winters
Lung cancer forms in tissues of the lung, usually in the cells lining the air passages. The two main types of lung cancer are small cell and non-small cell. These types are diagnosed based on how the cells look under a microscope.
It is estimated that there will be approximately 215,000 new cases of lung cancer in the United States in 2008, and that there will be almost 162,000 deaths during the same period (National Cancer Institute).
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women. Quitting smoking, or not starting at all, is by far the best way to prevent lung cancer. Smoking tobacco accounts for more than eight out of 10 lung cancer cases. If everyone stopped using tobacco, lung cancer could be nearly wiped out (American Cancer Society).
Symptoms of lung cancer vary from person to person and may include:
- a cough that will not go away and gets worse over time
- constant chest pain, or arm and shoulder pain
- coughing up blood
- shortness of breath, wheezing or hoarseness
- repeated episodes of pneumonia or bronchitis
- swelling of the neck and face
- loss of appetite and/or weight loss
- clubbing of fingers
Having one or more of these symptoms may not mean that you have cancer, but if any of your symptoms persist for more than two weeks, see your doctor.
Secondhand smoke increases a person’s risk of developing heart disease by 25% to 30% and lung cancer by 20% to 30%. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, secondhand smoke kills nearly 38,000 non-smokers each year. Keep your lungs healthy by avoiding tobacco and secondhand smoke.
Cigarette smoking during childhood and adolescence can have adverse affects not only on a teens’ long-term health, but also on their day-to-day quality of life by decreasing athletic performance, negatively affecting personal appearance, and causing an increase in the number and severity of respiratory illnesses. The most important teen smoking fact is that cigarette smoking habits that begin in adolescence often persist into adulthood.
Every day approximately 4,000 children between 12 and 17 years of age smoke their first cigarette, and an estimated 1,300 of them will become regular smokers. Half of them will ultimately die from their habit (American Lung Association).
To learn more about how to keep your teen from smoking, visit the multimedia resource box located on the right-hand side of this page.