Lung cancer takes more lives in the United States than colorectal, breast and prostate cancers combined but what do you know about it? Do you have to be a smoker to get it? Are you more likely to get it as a man or a woman? The answer may surprise you.
“Most patients present with the most advance disease because by the time they develop systems it’s usually a stage 4,” said oncologist Dr. Irina G. Veystman.
New coughs that don’t go away, shortness of breath, chest or bone pain and headaches are early warning signs. Gender also plays a role.
The American Cancer Society reports that one in every 15 males will develop lung cancer while for a woman, the risk is about one in 17. And Black men are about 15% more likely to develop lung cancer than white men.
And just because you don’t smoke, doesn’t mean you won’t get it.
“We mostly see it related to smokers, but we also see non-smokers on the rise as well,” Veystman said.
Exposure to secondhand smoke, previous radiation therapy, exposure to radon, asbestos and other carcinogens such as arsenic, chromium and nickel, and having a family history of lung cancer can increase your chances.
Veystman said the best way to help lower your risk is to, “Come and get screened.”
Only 22% of all people diagnosed with lung cancer will survive five years or more, but if it’s caught before it spreads, the chance for five-year survival improves dramatically.