Lung cancer is a subject that almost everyone is familiar with on some level. Approximately “1 in 14 men and women will be diagnosed with cancer of the lung and bronchus in their lifetime” (Howlader N, 2011). Like any other devastating and deadly disease, most assume that it cannot happen to them. However, this may not necessarily be the case. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more people in the United States die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer. (U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group, 2012) There are two major types of lung cancer, non-small cell and small cell. These two types of cancer are named after the differences in the cell shapes when looked at under a microscope. The risk factors for non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer are identical, yet the treatments and prognosis’ can be significantly different.
Non-small cell and small cell lung cancer have risk factors which can be modified to lessen the chance of a lung cancer diagnosis. “Tobacco use is the major cause of lung cancer in the United States” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2004), (International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), 2002). Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke. Exposure to chemicals at work happens every day. Asbestos, arsenic, radiation, and chromium are the most commonly reported chemicals related to workplace exposure. Exposure to a gas know as radon can occur at home, at work, or both. The Environmental Protection Agency suggests that all dwellings be tested for radon. By quitting smoking and avoiding exposure to certain chemicals both at home and work, one can greatly reduce th3e chance of lung can cer diagnosis.
Although non-small cell and small cell lung cancer have risk factors that can be avoided, they also have non-modifiable risk factors. Family history is something that we cannot change. If a person’s mother, father, sister, brother, or their children have had lung cancer of any kind then they are at higher risk themselves. Gene testing can now be conducted if someone is considered to be at a high risk for a specific type of cancer. Environmental risk factors are also non-modifiable. Air pollution is common in large cities and around certain types of industries. Avoiding these types of risk factors would require moving out of the city, and this would not guarantee a safe environment in a new area. Each of these risk factors can be serious even when considered one by one, together they can be deadly.
No matter what type of lung cancer it may be, the preventive measures are the same. Lifestyle changes can make a considerable difference in reducing the risk for lung cancer. The single most important decision that can be made to prevent lung cancer is quitting smoking. Avoiding secondhand smoke is also necessary. Living in less populated areas may be a way to avoid some of the environmental factors that we may not even be aware of. Changing jobs on taking extra precautions may be necessary in order to avoid workplace chemical exposure. It is crucial to know the risk factors for non-small cell and small cell lung cancer and how to avoid them.
Early detection of any disease can make the life or death difference. If someone has a persistent cough, chest pain, bloody sputum, or recurring pneumonia or bronchitis, a physician should be immediately consulted. These are signs that lung cancer may be present. After consulting a physician, he or she may suggest a computerized tomography (CT) scan. If this shows any spots or unknown images, he or she will then recommend a biopsy. A biopsy allows a piece of lung tissue to be removed and tested to determine if lung cancer is the correct diagnosis. Detecting cancer in the first stage is a determinate factor in both treatment and prognosis.
Non-small cell lung cancer has many different treatment options. According to the journal “Drugs”, the