Lung cancer awareness month is an important part of the year that provides an opportunity to learn and educate ourselves about this disease.
What makes lung cancer a serious threat to your life is that it rather grows slow and sometimes may take up to several years to notice any symptoms, so many of us fail to recognise the signs.
It kills over 8,000 Australians every single year, affecting both men and women in Australia.
According to Cancer Australia, it is estimated that 13,258 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in the country in 2020.
Despite killing thousands of Australians every year, it is astonishing that many people know very little about this disease.
What is lung cancer?
Lung cancer develops when cells in your lungs grow abnormally impacting your lung health.
It can start in any part of your respiratory system that can even spread to the brains if not treated timely.
There are two main types of lung cancer.
The most common type of lung cancer is called Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer that accounts for 85% of the cases worldwide.
Non-small cell cancer is the most widely occurring form of lung cancer accounting for almost 85% of all diagnosed lung cancer cases.
This form of cancer usually begins in the middle of your lungs and starts spreading quickly, making it one of the most aggressive forms of cancers occurring in humans.
Small Cell Lung Cancer that accounts for 15% of lung cancers is the second most commonly diagnosed lung cancer.
This form of lung cancer is also called the Small-Cell Carcinoma, commonly occurring in smokers. It begins when the healthy cells in your lung change and grow out of control to form lumps called tumours.
These tumours will then shed the cancerous cells that can get carried away in the blood which explains why lung cancer spreads so quickly to nearby organs especially to the lymph nodes that fights infections in your body.
What are the early signs and symptoms of lung cancer?
- Headaches are one of the most commonly seen early signs of lung cancer. The headaches can also lead to migraines in worse cases
- A cough that doesn’t go away quickly and builds up to get worse
- Unexplained loss of body weight can be associated with lung cancer along with loss of energy levels
- Loss of appetite
- Shortness of breath and changes in your breathing habit such as breath heavily while carrying out physical work
- If cancer starts spreading to nearby bones, your bones and muscles will start aching. The bone pain can be worse during the night and with movements.
The use of Tobacco is the leading cause of lung cancer
Thankfully we know that smoking tobacco is by far the leading cause of lung cancer as well as many other forms of cancer.
Tobacco contains over 7000 types of chemicals including 69 types of carcinogens that are known to cause cancers. The use of tobacco is associated with 16 more types of cancers and causes the most cancer deaths in the world.
Seeing our doctors could be your first best step when considering to stub that last smoke. Our GPs can effectively assist you in quitting to smoke.
When planning your cessation programs, our doctors will conduct a quick physical check-up as well as keeping in mind the details of your current medical conditions and previous medical history.
Our GPs can:
- Prescribe a nicotine replacement therapy aiming to reduce nicotine addiction and reduce your withdrawals that occurs when you stop smoking.
- Provide advice in medication to help you quit smoking quickly that can include medications like Bupropion to help reduce the effects of withdrawals.
- Our GPs will decide if any medications are suitable for your use and also decide on their doses and how often they can be consumed.
- Provide counselling along with on-going pharmacotherapy to encourage smoking cessation.
- Write your referrals to behavioural therapy, help groups and tobacco treatment specialists if required.