Lung cancer is still one of the most prevalent forms of cancer globally. In fact, it contributes to more deaths across the world than breast, colon, and prostate cancer combined. August 1st is World Lung Cancer Day which is an opportunity to reflect on how we can work towards reducing the numbers of diagnoses and risk factors in communities.
Over two million people receive a lung cancer diagnosis each year, with three main types: non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), small-cell lung cancer (SCLC), and lung carcinoid tumour. Whilst smoking tobacco is one of the leading risk factors, there are several others to keep in mind. One is a family history of the illness, as this can significantly increase the chances of developing lung cancer. Exposure to other dangerous substances such as asbestos and arsenic can increase the risk too.
About a quarter of lung cancer sufferers have no symptoms prior to diagnosis, which makes spotting the condition difficult. One of the most recognisable symptoms is a persistent cough that does not go away.
Depending on your practice, this may be an opportunity for you to consider how you can help reduce the likelihood of lung cancer in your own community, and to familiarise yourself and others with the subtler symptoms. These include a change in mucus, chest/back pain, and difficulty swallowing.