As in case of many fatal diseases, a lot of misconceptions revolve around lung cancer as well. Though a deadly disease which is known to engulf millions of lives every year, knowing the right facts along with myths that follow lung cancer is important. Here, in this post, we’ve compiled a list of seven lesser known facts about lung cancer which every individual must know!
- Lung cancer claims maximum lives worldwide
Of the 400 types of cancer recognized by medical science, lung cancer is typically the most common one. In fact, according to one of the leading medical associations of the word, if we exclude non-melanoma skin cancer, lung cancer becomes the most common type of cancer worldwide. In 2017, nearly 1.6 million new cases were registered. Of these 1.2 million people lost their lives to this fatal disease. Lung cancer is more prevalent amid men than women and children.
- Quitting tobacco consumption can help, no matter how long one has been smoking
Many longtime smokers think that quitting smoking is useless, especially when it comes to reducing their chances of developing lung cancer as they’ve been hooked to tobacco consumption for so long. This is typically a myth that follows!
Though a major chunk of lung cancer cases registered every year is due to an overdose consumption of tobacco in any form, quitting at any point can significantly reduce one’s chances of developing the fatal disease. Medical practitioners state that quitting smoking for more than five years at a stretch can reduce a person’s chance of developing lung cancer by 50 percent.
- Annual screening is highly recommended
Annual lung cancer screening is now recommended for many people irrespective of the fact that they are active or passive smokers. Medical associations recommend yearly lung cancer screening for people who
- have a history of heavy smoking,
- still smoke or have quit smoking within the last 15 years, and
- are between 55 and 80 years of age
By heavy smoking we mean a person who smokes about 30 packs a year or more. Smoking one to ten packs in a year is classified as average smoking. Not smoking yet staying in company of those who smoke and passively inhaling tobacco is known as passive smoking.
- Early detection means increased survival chances
While the chances of surviving lung cancer are next to negligent. Yet, physicians and oncologists state that an early detection of lung cancer, typically at Stage 0 to 2 increase the chances of a person fighting the fatal disease and living a longer, healthier life than others.
However, please note that the 5-year survival rate of lung cancer is just 16.8 percent as compared to 98.9% in the case of prostate cancer. Such grim statistic, don’t mean that people do not survive lung cancer. But, their percentage is way lower than other known fatal cancer types.
- New treatments are available with medical science for some lung cancers
Over the years, scientists and medical practitioners have developed many new immunotherapies to treat certain types of lung cancer. These majorly include drugs which target epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) as well as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).
A new variety of immunotherapy drugs, known as checkpoint inhibitors, block proteins which cancer cells use to protect themselves from the immune response, have also been developed. Other drugs currently being developed include:
- Monoclonal antibodies which specifically target a variety of growth factors
- Therapeutic vaccines, which are being designed to target tumor-specific antibodies, and
- Adoptive cell therapies which increase a person’s T cell immune towards cancer cells.
- Passive smoking and e-cigarettes are equally harmful to the lungs
Many people think that smoking e-cigarettes or accompanying those who smoke cannot affect their lung. As a less known fact, they do! E-cigarette smoking and passive smoking are as harmful as active smoking. And, most of such people are diagnosed with small cell lung cancer.
Small cell lung cancer is by far the most aggressive type of lung cancer, and believe it or not, a major chunk of all lung cancer cases are caused by smoking. Passive smoke can damage lung cells and cause them to turn cancerous in nature, particularly amid people who are more susceptible to developing cancer. E-cigarettes, on the other hand, contain carcinogens like formaldehyde and other chemicals, which can harm cells.
Though it’s still unclear as to how much impact e-cigarettes and passive smoking can have on the lungs of a person, these carcinogens do cause damage in the long run.
- Lung cancer cases are dropping year after year
Yes! It’s one of the deadliest of diseases which engulfs maximum lives every year. But, with the development in the field of medical science and introduction of many new therapies, the number of lung cancer cases are evidently decreasing year after year.
Anti-tobacco campaigns also significantly help in reducing adult smoking rates across the globe. Initiatives, such as increased prices of tobacco products and smoke-free zones are also playing vital roles in the widespread reduction in smoking and rates of smoking-related lung cancer cases.
- Other lesser known risk factors which increase the chances of lung cancer
Apart from active and passive tobacco smoking, a number of other factors also increase a person’s chance of developing lung cancer. These include:
- Exposure to radon gas
- Exposure to asbestos and other carcinogen such as arsenic, chromium and nickel
- Family history of lung cancer
- Other lung related diseases which force normal cells to turn malignant and destructive in nature
- Other types of cancer which leave their scars behind
Beating lung cancer
Spreading awareness about lung cancer and its ill-effects has significantly helped in reducing the number of lung cancer cases being registered every year. Promoting free screening and encouraging people to quit smoking has also aided in enhancing life-expectancy.
Knowing everything about such deadly and fatal diseases is very important. If you are an active or passive smoker, now is the time to bring about a change in your habits and lifestyle. For lung cancer spared no-one.