August 1st is World Lung Cancer Day. We wanted to take some time to raise awareness about a  disease that impacts many hospice and palliative care patients and their families.

Lung cancer continues to be one of the most common cancers around the globe. It claims more lives each year than colon, prostate, and breast cancers combined. In fact, according to the American Lung Association, it is estimated that lung cancer accounts for nearly one in five deaths worldwide.

Lung Cancer Screening is Key

You can be screened for lung cancer with a low-dose CT scan. The following criteria will determine if you’re eligible for the screening:

  • You smoke (or smoked) one pack of cigarettes per day or more for 30 years
  • You smoke (or smoked) two packs per day for 15 years
  • You currently smoke
  • You have quit smoking within the past 15 years
  • You are between 55 and 80 years old

What Causes Lung Cancer?

Smoking tobacco and being exposed to secondhand smoke are the primary causes of lung cancer. This is because inhaling cigarette smoke damages the cells that line the lungs — which causes cancer. Additional risk factors include:

  • Exposure to radon and asbestos
  • Exposure to other carcinogens
  • Previous radiation therapy
  • Family history

Symptoms of Lung Cancer

Unfortunately, the symptoms of lung cancer usually don’t appear until the disease has progressed. Here are the symptoms you should be aware of:

  • Coughing up blood
  • Long-lasting cough
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Headache
  • Bone pain

Preventing Lung Cancer

Although there is no way to guarantee preventing lung cancer, there are some things you can do to significantly lower your risk, including:

  • Dont smoke — If you’ve never smoked, don’t start. If you are a smoker, speak with your doctor about getting help to quit. 
  • Avoid secondhand smoke — If you live or work with somebody who smokes, urge them to quit or only smoke outside and away from others. 
  • Avoid carcinogens at work — Wear the proper safety gear to protect yourself from carcinogens on the job.
  • Test your home for radon —Regularly check the radon levels in your home, especially if you live in an area where there are known radon issues.
  • Exercise regularly — Aim for 30 minutes of exercise five times per week to stay in good shape and optimal health.
  • Eat healthy — Eat fresh fruits and vegetables that provide the nutrients and minerals needed to live a healthy lifestyle.