Unmasking the Threat: Lung Cancer Facts and Prevention Strategies You Must Know in 2023

by | Dec 5, 2023 | Physical Health

Lung cancer stands as the second most common cancer globally and the leading cause of cancer-related deaths. It affects people of all genders, claiming more lives than any other cancer. In 2020 alone, over 2.2 million new cases of lung cancer were diagnosed. Here’s what you need to know to safeguard yourself from this formidable disease.

Fact 1: Understanding Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in one or both lungs. These cells, deviating from normal lung cell functions, fail to develop into healthy lung tissues. As they multiply, they form tumours, hindering lung function vital for oxygen supply to the body through the bloodstream.

Fact 2: Types of Lung Cancer

There are two primary types of lung cancer:

  • Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC): Constituting over 90% of cases, NSCLC includes lung adenocarcinomas (~60%), squamous cell carcinomas (~30%), and large cell carcinomas (~10%).
  • Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC): Although less common, SCLC is the fastest-growing cancer, rapidly spreading, especially to the brain.

READ MORE: Three Essential Health Checks for Men

Fact 3: Lung Cancer in South Africa

In 2020, South Africa reported 8950 cases of lung cancer, with 69% occurring in males and 31% in females. Sadly, lung cancer exhibits one of the lowest survival rates due to late diagnoses or limited access to innovative curative treatments.

Fact 4: Recognising Symptoms

Symptoms may not manifest until the tumor is sizable. Watch for:

  • Persistent or worsening cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest, shoulder, or back pain
  • Repeated lung infections
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Gruff or raspy voice

Advanced symptoms include fatigue, unexplained weight loss, bone or joint pain, and more. Any persistent, unusual, or unexplained symptoms warrant a medical evaluation.

Fact 5: Causes and Risk Factors

Smoking is the primary cause of lung cancer, affecting both people who smoke and those exposed to second-hand smoke. Other risk factors include radiation, air pollution, a family history of lung cancer, asbestos exposure, and it can even occur in non-smokers.

READ MORE: 10 Super Effective Strategies to Quit Smoking for Good

Reducing the Risk: Global Cancer Research Council’s Recommendations

To decrease the risk of lung cancer, consider:

  • Following a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
  • Consuming foods with retinol, beta-carotene, or carotenoids.
  • For people who smoke or ex-smokers, incorporating foods high in vitamin C.
  • For non-smokers, consuming foods containing Isoflavones.
  • Maintaining physical activity.

Campaigning for Cancer (C4C) is an advocacy organisation to give South African cancer patients and those affected by cancer a voice. For more information about how to partner with C4C or make a donation go to www.campaign4cancer.co.za.

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