Stand still. Take a deep breath. Inhale. Release. Can you do that?
Consider yourself lucky. We breathe in and out nearly every second of every day without giving it a second thought. For people with lung cancer, it’s not that easy. Lung cancer is the second most common cancer among men and women in the U.S., and it is the leader among cancer-related deaths.
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and there’s never been a better time than right now to quit smoking and take steps to avoid other risk factors. Symptoms of lung cancer can include:
- Prolonged, non-stop coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing up blood
- Chest pain
- Frequent tiredness
- Unexplained weight loss
Cancer can occur for many reasons, but 90% of lung cancers are linked to cigarette smoking. That’s 90 percent of the roughly 200,000 people who are diagnosed in the United States every year. That number is staggering, especially since smoking cigarettes is something many people choose to do.
Regardless, we understand the addictive nature of cigarettes, but if you’ve never been a regular smoker, you may not realize how tough it is to quit. The best way to lower your risk of lung cancer is to never pick up that pack of cigarettes in the first place, but if you’ve already started, it’s time to stop.
It’s not easy, but luckily there are plenty of helpful resources. Start at smokefree.gov to get help developing an initial plan, as well as methods to hold yourself accountable and committed to a smoke-free lifestyle. When facing any tough situation, it helps to have others around you who are willing to act as your support system and help mentor you through the process. Marin County offers several different smoking cessation options, from programs tailored to the individual to support groups where your peers can help you overcome the habit. You can find a list of helpful resources here.
Other Risk Factors
Although the vast majority of lung cancer cases are a result of smoking, around 7,300 people who have never smoked still die from lung cancer each year due to secondhand smoke and other causes, which means that even if you aren’t a smoker, there are other risk factors that can lead to lung cancer. To help lower your risk, avoid secondhand smoke. Keep your home, car, and workspace smoke-free. If you have children, make sure that they are in smoke-free environments when they are away from home – be it grandma’s house or the babysitter’s.
Aside from smoking, radon, a naturally occurring gas that can get trapped in buildings, is the second leading cause of lung cancer. This radioactive gas is released from the rocks and soil. It is odorless and tasteless, so the only way to know if you are in an area with elevated levels of radon is to get your home tested. More information about radon in California is available here. You can also purchase a home test kit via the California Department of Public Health for only $7.95 – a pretty low price to pay for a potentially life-saving product, don’t you think?
Meritage Medical Network Want To Reduce Your Risk of Lung Cancer!
Join us in proactively working to reduce your lung cancer risk as part of Lung Cancer Awareness Month in November. Take steps to reduce your risk factors! Don’t start smoking, and if you have, take steps to quit as soon as possible. Also, avoid second-hand smoke, and get your home tested for Radon. For more information about smoking cessation and lung cancer please visit Meritage Medical Network.