November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s now more important than ever that people do their bit and get involved to raise awareness. According to Cancer Research UK, lung cancer (along with breast and bowel cancer) is responsible for more than half of new cancers each year. Lung Cancer Awareness Month is a great opportunity to take part in different events to help raise some money to help fight this devastating disease.
The current situation
When it comes to lung cancer, there’s some good news and some bad news. The good news is that in men, lung cancer rates have fallen by 47% over the last 40 years. In women however, lung cancer rates have risen by an extremely concerning 74%. This can be attributed to the fact that smoking rates have declined, in line with developments such as increased tobacco taxes, the banning of tobacco-related TV adverts, and most importantly, the smoking ban which came into effect in 2007.
The stage at which most lung cancers are diagnosed is a huge cause for concern. Two thirds of lung cancer patients aren’t diagnosed in enough time to provide them with the treatment they need to beat it. Fewer than 1 in 10 people who are diagnosed with lung cancer survive for more than five years after the disease has been diagnosed. It is therefore through initiatives like Lung Cancer Awareness Month that awareness can be raised in order to get earlier diagnosis rates, which will continue to improve the number of people diagnosed each year.
There are plenty of ways you can do your bit to raise awareness for Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Share your support on social media, organise a fundraising activity or get involved with organised activities within your community. Most importantly, you should make sure that you’re clued up on lung cancer, by knowing the warning signs and how you can prevent them.
Preventing lung cancer
One of the most worrying aspects of lung cancer is that 89% of cases are preventable. Smoking is now widely accepted as being the biggest cause of lung cancer, and even second hand smoke can lead to its development. Consider the following to prevent your risk of getting lung cancer:
- If you are a smoker, quit now. The longer you’ve been a smoker, the more you’re at risk of developing lung cancer. Quitting now will reduce your risk of getting the disease compared to someone who continues to smoke.
- If you’re not a smoker, avoid being around those who do. Passive smoking can still cause lung cancer, and it can be easily avoided.
- If you’ve been in an environment where you’ve been exposed to chemicals, especially asbestos, silica or diesel exhausts, you should seek advice from your doctor about detecting the early warning signs.
- Radon gas is the second biggest cause of lung cancer, and there are high levels of it in south West England. You can find out more about radon gas and what to do to minimise your risks of developing lung cancer from UK Radon.
If you are or have been a smoker, have a family history of lung cancer or fall into one of the other risk categories, it’s important that you keep an eye out for the early warning signs. Cancer Research UK lists the common symptoms as:
- Having a persistent cough
- A sudden change in a cough that you’ve had for a while
- Shortness of breath
- Being short of breath
- Coughing up phlegm with blood in it
- Chest or shoulder pain
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
The earlier you go to your doctor about your systems, the quicker lung cancer could be detected. Even if it turns out to be something less serious, getting into the habit of working out the warning signs could save your life. The NHS website has a lot of information about lung cancer, including information on diagnosis and treatment to help you boost your knowledge for Lung Cancer Awareness Month.