Lung Cancer Awareness

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By the end of this year, an estimated 30,000 Canadians and 236,740 Americans will have been diagnosed with lung cancer. Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer that affects North Americans (followed by breast cancer, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer, and stomach cancer), and is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths – killing an estimated 1.76 million people worldwide each year. The average age of individuals diagnosed with lung cancer is between 65 and 70, while there is also a small number of younger people (under the age of 45) who are diagnosed.

Types of Lung Cancer

There are two main types of lung cancer:

• Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
• Small cell lung cancer (SCLC)

There are also several different subtypes of Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that one can be diagnosed with, including:

• Adenocarcinoma
• Squamous cell carcinoma
• Large cell (undifferentiated) carcinoma
• Adenosquamous carcinoma
• Sarcomatoid carcinoma

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for as many as 85% of all lung cancers, while up to 15% of lung cancers are small cell lung cancers (SCLC).

Risk Factors

Aside from age, there are other risk factors that can increase someone’s chances of developing lung cancer, including:

• Tobacco or cigar smoking
• Exposure to second-hand smoke
• Exposure to asbestos
• Exposure to radon
• Air pollution
• Personal/family history of lung cancer

Symptoms of Lung Cancer

• A persistent or worsening cough (lasting longer than 2 or 3 weeks)
• Coughing up blood
• Recurring chest infections
• Pain when breathing or coughing
• Persisting fatigue/decreased energy
• Loss of appetite
• Unexplained weight loss

Early Detection

When it comes to any type of cancer, early detection is key, as that can increase your chances of successful treatment. Screening for lung cancer is important as its symptoms typically do not appear until it is already in an advanced stage (and may have spread to other parts of the body.) Screening is recommended for individuals between the ages of 55-74 and are at high risk (for example, if there is a family history of lung cancer or if you are or were a smoker.)

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