Lung cancer claims more lives than any other type of cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this disease killed 158,599 men and women in 2006 alone. Not only does this cancer attack a very vital part of your body, but it can also develop without showing any symptoms. Thus, it is important to understand the causes of this cancer so that you can be aware of your risks.
First, there is a strong correlation between smoking tobacco and the development of lung cancer. In fact, studies have shown that an estimated 90% of cases are directly related to tobacco use. Because of this, the amount that you smoke combined with the number of years that you smoke can help doctors determine the risk of cancer. They multiply the packs you smoked per day times the number of years you have smoked to calculate “pack-years.” The higher your pack-years, the greater your risk for this disorder. In addition to direct smoking, secondhand smoke can also increase your risk of cancer.
Also, other less-common causes of this disease include:
- Asbestos fibers
- Radon gas
- Air pollution
- Lung disease
Frighteningly, about 25% of people who contract lung cancer do not show any signs of the disease. Rather, it is detected with a routine blood test or chest x-rays. On the other hand, they may show symptoms once the cancer spreads to other areas of your body. However, general symptoms of lung cancer generally include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Shoulder pain
- Difficulty swallowing
Lastly, the treatment for this type of cancer is much the same as traditional cancer treatment. Doctors usually perform a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to try to cure the cancer.
Sometimes, this cancer can develop in a person who has never smoked a cigarette or other tobacco products. In these cases, the cancer could be related to asbestos exposure. If you believe that you now suffer from lung cancer due to asbestos fibers, you should learn more about asbestos-related lung cancer.