Lung cancer is one of the most severe medical conditions characterized by uncontrolled growth of tissues of the lung. Lung cancer is the most common cause of death related to cancers, in both men and women. This severe life threatening disease causes about 1.3 million deaths each year all around the world. The disease typically starts in the spongy and soft tissue on the walls of the bronchi. These are tubular branching airways of the lungs. In some cases, the origin of the tumor is somewhere else in the body, and the lung becomes affected because of the metastatic disease. Lung cancer itself is metastatic in almost 78% of the cases, and it frequently spreads to other organs such as the liver, bone and the brain.
Symptoms of lung cancer
Lung cancer typically develops gradually in a course of many years. First symptoms of the disease include persistent coughing that typically worsens over the time. Patients may also feel pain in their chest, shoulders or back. Their voice may change and become very hoarse while the harsh sounds often accompany their breath. Shortness of the breath is also very common, as well as the recurrent lung infections, coughing up phlegm or mucus and even coughing up blood.
Causes of lung cancer
Lung cancer is tightly associated with the cigarette smoking. As much as 90 percent of all persons affected with lung cancer are smokers. The risk of lung cancer is correlated with the number of cigarettes smoked over time. Cigarettes bear a higher risk of lung cancer than the pipe and cigar smoking, but these are also strongly associated with the disease. Tobacco smoke contains more than 4000 chemicals and more than 60 known carcinogens. People who combine smoking with hormone therapy are at the greatest risk of lung cancer. The severity of this risk goes up to 60%.
Exposure to radon gas and asbestos is also one of the common causes of lung cancer. Radon is especially dangerous since it is colorless and has no smell. It is a side product of the breakdown of radioactive radium, which is normally found in the soil. It is estimated that one in 15 homes in the United States has radon levels above the recommended limit. This actually means a 50% increased lung cancer risk.
Asbestos is a natural mineral that was once used as a construction material. Small hair-like fibers from asbestos are dangerous when inhaled, since they irritate the lung causing severe diseases and even cancer. Smoking and asbestos exposure, combined, is especially dangerous.
Air pollution is also responsible for some cases of lung cancer and, combined with smoking; it increases one’s risk of disease. The pollution usually contains traces of hazardous diesel exhaust, coal products, and other industrial substances.