Lung cancer is perhaps one of the most known diseases in the world today. In Malaysia, it is the top cancer-related killers. The most commonly known cause of lung cancer is smoking. However, it not only attacks smokers and is not only limited to male. In fact, it was reported recently in the United Kingdom that lung cancer is one of the biggest killers among women. But that does not mean the men should now go on and start puffing away.
The government had taken many steps to help eliminate smoking by raising taxes for this product and launched countless advertising campaigns to educate the people and yet the smokers have continued to buy and consume them. In the 2006’s National Health and Morbidity Survey, it was showed that there was an increase of 15% in terms of non-smokers contracting lung cancer in Malaysia. This could be due to issues like air-pollution and second hand cigarette smoke. The only difference here is that smokers do it to themselves.
Lung cancer, as the name implies starts from the lungs which are in the chest. The air that you breathe will go through the windpipe and into the lungs which will then be spread to the bronchi tubes. There are 2 main types of lung cancer, the most common type being the NSCLC (non-small cell lung cancer) which makes up about 80% of all such cases. On the other hand, there is the small cell lung cancer while there is the mixed type, consisting of both.
As you would know by now, smoking is the major cause of lung cancer and it can happen to anyone, any gender. Lung cancer is more prominent as compared to all other type like breast, prostate and colon cancers combined. Although it has been common among older adults (usually above 45 years of age), the rising rate of young smokers today have reduced the age level considerable. The risk of contracting lung cancer depends on how much you smoke and when you started smoking. It must be noted that people who had never smoked in their life could contract lung cancer too. Therefore, it is important that you should not hang around or mix too much with smokers or in environments where cigarette smokes are evident. Other cancer-causing chemicals like nickel chromates, beryllium, uranium and most commonly in cities like Kuala Lumpur, carbon monoxide (diesel exhaust) could be a major cause this type of cancer.
The most obvious method to prevent lung cancer is to stop smoking if you are a smoker. This is because lung cancer is mainly caused by the dangerous agents like tar which is mainly sourced from cigarette smoke which is being inhaled into the lungs by the smoker. Apart from that, people who inhale second-hand smoke are among those who are in the high risk category as well. For those who are residing around industrial areas that emit smokes or high volume of carbon monoxide should avoid coming in contact with them or use facial masks where possible.
Lung cancer is diagnosed in the same way as it is done with most type of cancers. Lung cancer tests are very complicated that require very sophisticated processes. If a lung tumor is discovered, a lung biopsy needs to be carried out to determine what type of abnormal cells is there. Other types of tests include the sputum cytology and the Positron Emission Tomography (PET) for Lung Cancer test, among others. Apart from that, the doctor might require to carry out a CT Scan of the brain to determine if the cancer cells have spread to the brain which could further complicate the situation.
In Malaysia, lung cancer is among the top killers among Malaysians. According to NCSM (National Cancer Society of Malaysia), the number of cancer patients in the coming years is expected to increase and there is no sign of subsiding in the near future. In 2011, lung cancer was the eighth highest killer among Malaysians which is the highest cases of cancer among all others like liver, oral and cancer. It has been found that lung cancer will have four times the likelihood to occur to a smoker than a non-smoker while a second-hand smoke inhaler could have twice the likelihood to develop lung cancer than one who does not.
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If you start experiencing symptoms of lung cancer or problems, you must seek medical advice from your family physician that will diagnose and determine if you need further treatment. Lung cancer is a serious disease which must be treated at the earliest time possible. If required, then you will be referred to a specialist in this field which will include a medical oncologist who basically specializes in treating cancer patients. A medical oncologist will be the first level of expert to see who will recommend the best possible treatment for you. If needed, you might undergo radiation therapy where you will consult the radiation oncologist while a surgical oncologist is the one who uses biopsy to treat and remove the tumors.
Lung cancer cannot be ascertained before a thorough examination and diagnosis. However, you must take note of early signs which would warrant a proper checkup. If you have been experiencing a persistent cough that you cannot recover from for more than 3 weeks, then you should have your lungs checked. This is more crucial if the cough seems to get worse with no signs of improvement. Other symptoms include chest infections, coughing of blood and pain when coughing. Besides that, if you are experiencing persistent breathlessness and fatigue all the time, then you must check with your doctor as soon as possible.
The treatment for lung cancer is similar to other types of cancer where you might have to consider going through radiation therapy. This is where high energy x-rays are used to destroy the cancer cells which will be carried out by a radiation oncologist. Another common method is chemotherapy where drugs will be used to destroy the cells. The 2 methods are among the most commonly adopted but they come with side effects like hair loss and extreme fatigue. There are certain types of drugs used like erlotinib which has been found to be more effective than chemotherapy. Other drugs include gefitinib, gilotrif and crizotinib.
A patient with lung cancer must change the lifestyle habits so as not to deteriorate the condition further. Smoking of cigarettes and breathing in of polluted air must be avoided. Besides that, you must refrain from taking too much sugar in your food and drinks but ensure that you have a lot of Vitamin D. Green tea has been found to help in recovery while Resveratrol which is found in red wine would help as well.
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