Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in the United States. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. However, lung cancer is overlooked or stigmatized, as it is associated with those that smoke. It is also one of the lowest in terms of funding. Many feel that it is a “self-induced” disease. However, lung cancer advocacy group LUNGevity, estimates that close to 65% of all new lung cancer diagnoses are among people who have never smoked or are former smokers. Additionally, approximately 12% of new lung cancer cases are among those that never smoked. This month of November, we recognize Lung Cancer Awareness Month.
Early detection is important for successful treatment outcomes. The only recommended screening test for lung cancer is low-dose computed tomography (also called a low-dose CT scan, or LDCT). Screening is meant to find cancer in people who do not have symptoms of the disease. The American Cancer Society recommends yearly lung cancer screens for people who are 55 to 74 years old and currently smoke or have quit in the past 15 years and meet additional criteria.
Warning Signs of Lung Disease (Source: American Lung Association)
- Chronic cough: A cough that you have had for eight weeks or longer is considered chronic. This is an important early symptom that tells you something is wrong with your respiratory system.
- Shortness of breath: It’s not normal to experience shortness of breath that doesn’t go away after exercising, or that you have after little or no exertion. Labored or difficult breathing—the feeling that it is hard to breathe in out—is also a warning sign.
- Chronic mucus production: Mucus, also called sputum or phlegm, is produced by the airways as a defense against infections or irritants. If your mucus production has lasted a month or longer, this could indicate lung disease.
- Wheezing: Noisy breathing or wheezing is a sign that something unusual is blocking your lungs’ airways or making them too narrow.
- Coughing up blood: If you are coughing up blood, it may be coming from your lungs or upper respiratory tract. Wherever it’s coming from, it signals a health problem.
- Chronic chest pain: Unexplained chest pain that lasts for a month or more—especially if it gets worse when you breathe in or cough—also is a warning sign.
Smokers are even more vulnerable to contract COVID-19 and suffer more severe illnesses that can result in hospitalization or death. Smoking impairs lung capacity – making it harder for the body to fight off respiratory diseases.
If you smoke, it’s never too late to quit. Join Freedom From Smoking®, through the American Lung Association for programs and resources to start a tobacco-free life.
Are you a Registered Nurse or Allied Health Professional looking to work and travel the U.S.?
MedPro Healthcare Staffing is a Joint Commission-certified and leading provider of healthcare contract staffing services to facilities across the U.S. To find out more, APPLY NOW or call us, at (800) 886-8108.