This November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Australia's second leading cause of death is lung disease, and lung cancer claims the lives of more Australians than any other cancer.
Lung cancer is similar to other cancers, where the cells in the lung grow differently and begin to form tumours. There are many treatments available, but it is unfortunately often detected late.
So, when is a cough more than a cough, and what should people be on the look out for when it comes to their lung health?
Symptoms of lung cancer include coughing up blood, a new or changed cough that doesn't go away, chest or shoulder pain, or a chest infection that won't go away. It can also cause shortness of breath, a hoarse voice, loss of appetite and weight loss, and tiredness. These symptoms could also be a sign of something other than cancer, so it's important to get them checked out.
Lung cancer can affect anyone, but it's more common in people over 60. Smoking is the greatest risk factor for lung cancer, but even people who have never touched tobacco can become unwell.
Environmental factors such as air pollution, secondhand smoke, or occupational risks like exposure to asbestos, as well as a family history of the disease can all be contributing factors.
In fact, one in three women and one in 10 men who get lung cancer may never have smoked.
Despite this many people still assume smoking is the only cause of lung cancer. This stigma can lead to people with a lung cancer diagnosis receiving less support and feeling isolated. People may even be less likely to receive treatment or blame them selves for their disease. It also perpetuates a fatalistic view of lung cancer, which can serve another hurdle to seeking treatment.
This Lung Cancer Awareness Month is not only about raising awareness of symptoms, but also tackling this stigma.
No one deserves lung cancer, and all people should feel supported as they seek treatment. There is significant and ongoing scientific research into exisiting and new treatments. In the past two decades mortality rates have declined more than any other cancer.
You can participate in Lung Cancer Awareness Month by joining one of the Shine a Light Walks across the country. More information is here.
You can participate in Lung Cancer Awareness Month by joining one of the Shine a Light Walks across the country. More information is here: shinealight.lungfoundation.com.au
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