Lung cancer is the rapid growth of abnormal cells in one or both lungs. It is one of the most common cancers both in the United States and throughout the world. Its incidence has increased year after year and the amount of deaths that the disease causes have also increased as well. However, while there is much that we know about lung cancer, there is still a lot left to wonder about. As such, we have compiled a list of the top ten lung cancer facts that many people may find shocking, that can shed some light on the very common and very dangerous condition.
1. Leading Cause of Death
In terms of cancer caused deaths, lung cancer is number one. In fact, it causes more deaths than any other cancers combined. Lung cancer facts also show that the disease accounts for over 150,000 deaths each year, and that number has increased in the last decade.
2. Common in Elderly Population
While lung cancer can strike anyone at any time during their life, it is actually more common in the elderly, with this group of individuals (those over 60 years old) accounting for nearly 80% of all cases of this type of cancer.
3. Race Is a Factor
Different types of people are more susceptible to certain kinds of conditions, and the prevalence of lung cancer has been found to be higher in the African American population. In fact, when both white and black women were compared side by side, they had the same incidence of lung cancer, even where the white women smoked more cigarettes than the African American participants.
4. Lung Cancer Prognosis
Miracles happen every single day, but that does not change the fact that the prognosis for those with lung cancer is often very poor. This can be due to many factors, but most often relates to the stage at which the cancer is found and what type of cancer it is. This harsh reality about lung cancer prognosis is one of the more grim realities of the increasingly common disease, and one of the most unpleasant lung cancer facts on our top ten list, as it has been estimated that half of all persons with lung cancer will die within their first year following diagnosis.
5. Few Causes
There is no question that smoking is the single biggest contributing factor to the development of lung cancer. And, that even those that quit smoking may still go on to develop lung cancer later in life. However, what is worth noting about the causes of lung cancer is that people who have never ever smoked have gone on to develop the disease (almost always non small cell lung cancer). Additionally, other contributing factors that can elevate risk include exposure to some toxins like radon and asbestos.
6. Early Detection
When the disease is found ultimately will determine what type of lung cancer treatment is best and what the expected survival rate for any given person is. In the case of non small cell lung cancer, four stages present with varying levels of treatment success, with the first stage (stage one) being the easiest to treat. However, one of our most shocking lung cancer facts reveals how infrequent this really is, because only 15% of cases are found during this early stage.
7. Risk for Nonsmokers
For those who do not light up, it can be easy to not worry about lung cancer at all. However, there is still some risk even to non smokers who are exposed to the toxic smoke from cigarettes. It is estimated that being exposed to secondhand smoke can increase the chance of developing lung cancer in non smokers by between 20-30 percent.
8. Radiation Risk
While cigarette smoking and exposure to smoke or toxins contribute to almost all risk of developing lung cancer, radiation therapy can also attribute to increasing the chances of developing it. Persons who have been treated for Hodgkin disease or women treated with radiation for breast cancer may be more susceptible to develop lung cancer, even after successful past cancer treatment.
9. Supplements and Diet
While there are no finite lung cancer facts related to food or supplements on our list, studies have shown that smokers who take beta-carotene for instance, have a higher risk of lung cancer. What this suggests is that more research may reveal even more about food, vitamins and minerals and the way that they impact the potential risk of some kinds of cancers.
10. X-Ray Detection Is Not That Great
Previously, the school of thought was that screening X-Rays would be a useful way to detect lung cancer early and thus reduce the recurrence of deaths associated with the disease even when there were no signs of lung cancer or family history present. However, it has been determined that screening X-Rays have not reduced the recurrence of lung cancer at all, and can actually cause false positives. Conversely however, helical CT scans when used in screening did show promise in reducing lung cancer deaths.
Lung cancer proves to be very deadly for many reasons, but one of the most likely is because it is often not discovered until it is quite advanced. In fact, many of lung cancer symptoms may not present until the disease is in its later stages. Perhaps this lends to the success and deadliness of the condition. Further, diagnosis is challenging because lung cancer symptoms can vary depending on what part(s) of the body may be affected, thus further complicating the identification process.
Most commonly, finding blood in phlegm matter is one of the first obvious signs that something may be wrong. It is not uncommon for people to experience bloody mucus during sickness or illness; however persons with lung cancer may experience it regularly as it comes from the lungs, instead of only when accompanying a respiratory ail. When other symptoms like malaise, hoarseness and chest pain present alongside coughing up blood, it may be worthwhile to have an evaluation with a medical provider. As detailed in our top ten lung cancer facts above, early identification and treatment can make all the difference in the world when it comes to the successful treatment of lung cancer.