Lung Cancer Myths and Misconceptions
“How can I have lung cancer? I’ve never smoked!”
Does this sound familiar? Going by the data collected by the World Health Organization, Lung Cancer takes the lead in cancer-related deaths all over the world. The average count is about two million deaths every year. Even with a plethora of new treatments, it continues to project the lowest survival rate among all cancer-related afflictions. The first of August is observed as The World Lung Cancer Day to raise awareness of what Lung Cancer is, who is prone to it, and what it can do. To that end, this blog hopes to address some of the common misconceptions surrounding the origins and perpetuation of this disease.
Here are some popular myths/misconceptions around lung cancer:
- Lung Cancer affects only smokers: The disease does affect smokers but does not end ONLY with smokers. While smoking cigarettes can undoubtedly contribute to cancer, there are other powerful factors at play. Passive smoking, air pollution, hereditary factors, asbestosis- all of these can contribute. In many cases, lung cancer can also affect people who gave up smoking years prior to the disease.
- Women are more affected by Breast cancer, not Lung cancer: Lung cancer is not an old man, but a 30-50-year-old woman’s disease. The leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women each year is lung cancer, far surpassing breast, uterine and ovarian cancers.
- Preventing Lung cancer is out of my hands: For starters, avoiding smoking definitely helps. But there are other factors which you can also control, starting with being aware of those other factors. Be aware of exposure to radon and asbestos. Consider how you can contribute to keeping the air around you clean. Exercise regularly. Have a sense of your own body, and don’t treat a persistent cough with negligence.
- I am too young to have lung cancer: The Bronchioloalveolar carcinoma (BAC) variant of lung cancer is on the rise, particularly among young non-smoking women. A study established in the Journal of Cancer in 2019 shows that among 8734 patients, 120 (1.37%) were young adults. Therefore, while occurrence among youth is rare, it is not unheard of. Singular oncogene mutation can also be a contributing factor to lung cancer among young individuals. In simple words, your age does not guarantee your immunity.
- I am too old to treat my cancer: In truth, lung cancer in old people is as much treatable as it is in young adults. The sooner you opt for treatment, the better your chance for fuller years of life.
- Lung cancer is an automatic death sentence: A diagnosis does not point to imminent death. A number of tests need to be done to identify the stage of cancer and cell type. Based on this, there are different treatment options such as surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. While these cannot guarantee a new lease of life, they do curtail the possibility of certain death.
The prognosis on lung cancer will depend heavily on how early it is diagnosed. Therefore, it is wise to be on the look-out for anything irregular, especially if such irregularities are persistent. Take the time to be aware of basic symptoms of prevalent forms of cancer, and to constitute an overall healthy lifestyle, based on a healthy diet and healthy habits. Our bodies are designed to warn us, intuitively so, when something is about to go wrong and the symptoms are clearer without the additional stress of unhealthy habits.
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