Throughout the coming month of November, Cancer Pro will be supporting Lung Cancer Awareness month and the continued fight against this terrible disease.
Lung cancer continues to be one of the most affecting cancers across the world, and here in Malaysia, it is the most common cancer in men and the third most prevalent cancer in the country.
Smoking remains the biggest single cause of lung cancer, and it is estimated that 25% of all Malaysians are smokers and they are 20 times more likely to develop lung cancer. Worldwide, lung cancer kills over 1 million people a year.
Lung Cancer Overview
Two major types of lung cancer are non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. Typical causes of lung cancer include smoking, secondhand smoke, exposure to certain toxins, and family history.
Symptoms include cough (often with blood), chest pain, wheezing, and weight loss. These symptoms often don’t appear until the cancer is well advanced.
Treatments vary but may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted drug therapy, and immunotherapy.
The Two Types of Lung Cancer
As mentioned earlier, there are 2 – main types of lung cancer, and they are both treated very differently.
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
About 80% to 85% of lung cancers are NSCLC. The main subtypes of NSCLC are adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.
These subtypes, which start from different types of lung cells, are grouped together as NSCLC because their treatment and prognoses (outlook) are often similar.
This type of lung cancer occurs mainly in current or former smokers, but it is also the most common type of lung cancer seen in non-smokers. It is more common in women than in men, and it is more likely to occur in younger people than other types of lung cancer.
Small cell lung cancer (SCLC)
About 10% to 15% of all lung cancers are SCLC, and it is sometimes called oat cell cancer.
This type of lung cancer tends to grow and spread faster than NSCLC. About 70% of people with SCLC will have cancer that has already spread at the time they are diagnosed.
Since this cancer grows quickly, it tends to respond well to chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Unfortunately, for most people, the cancer will return at some point.
Lung Cancer the key risk factors
There are several risk factors associated with lung cancer some of which it is possible to change, for example, smoking while others like a person’s age or their family history, cannot be changed. However, more than 30% of lung cancer deaths could be prevented by modifying or avoiding the key risk factors.
Smoking and Passive Smoking – the risk factor you can change
Smoking is by far the leading key risk factor for lung cancer. About 80% of lung cancer deaths are thought, to result from smoking, and this number is probably even higher for small cell lung cancer (SCLC).
It’s very rare for someone who has never smoked to have SCLC. The risk of lung cancer for smokers is many times higher than for non-smokers. The longer you smoke, and the more packs a day you smoke, the greater your risk.
Even if you don’t smoke breathing in the smoke of others (called secondhand smoke or passive smoking) can increase your risk of developing lung cancer. Passive and secondhand smoke is thought to cause more than 7,000 deaths from lung cancer each year.
Family history of Lung Cancer – the risk factor you can’t change
Brothers, sisters, and children of people who have had lung cancer may have a slightly higher risk of lung cancer themselves, especially if the relative was diagnosed at a younger age.
It’s not clear how much of this risk might be due to shared genes among family members and how much might be from shared household exposures (such as tobacco smoke or radon).
Researchers have found that genetics seems to play a role in some families with a strong history of lung cancer, and if you have had lung cancer, you have a higher risk of developing another lung cancer.
Detection and Diagnosis
Catching cancer early often allows for a higher likelihood of successful treatment. Some early cancers may have signs and symptoms that can be noticed, but that is not always the case with lung cancer. As a result, it may take a chest x-ray or a CT scan to notice a tumour.
About Cancer Pro
Cancer Pro is the voice of the worlds cancer physicians and oncology professionals in Malaysia and is the trusted compassionate, resource for people with cancer, their families and caregivers. For more information regarding Lung Cancer, along with the various treatments available, please visit www. cancer-pro.com.