Lung Cancer Awareness Month, November stands as a pivotal time to shed light on a disease that continues to impact lives worldwide. As we navigate through this month, our collective focus sharpens on raising awareness about the prevalence, prevention, and treatment of lung cancer. Amidst the sea of health concerns, lung cancer holds a significant place due to its widespread occurrence and substantial impact on global public health.

This observance serves as a platform to emphasize the importance of early detection, dispel misconceptions surrounding the disease, and rally support for ongoing research and advancements in treatment modalities.

The profound significance of Lung Cancer Awareness Month extends beyond acknowledging the statistics; it calls upon communities to unite in fostering a greater understanding of risk factors, encouraging healthy lifestyles, and offering support to those affected.

Dr. Kamran Ali, Principal Consultant, Thoracic Surgery, Lung Transplant, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket shares symptoms, preventive measures, and lifestyle changes to adopt to reduce the risk of lung cancer.

Symptoms Of Lung Cancer

Dr Ali explains the following as symptoms of lung cancer:

Persistent coughing - While coughing is commonplace, if it lingers for more than a few weeks, it should be evaluated by a chest specialist. It can be a symptom of a serious underlying respiratory condition like lung cancer.

Coughing up blood - The thought and sight of blood coming out with a cough is scary. However, typically it starts with just a “streak or tinge of red” in the sputum, wherein it's more phlegm and less blood. At this point when the quantity is minimal, people may dismiss it as something non-serious. But it is an alarming symptom that should never be ignored. It often can be a ‘lucky’ symptom allowing diagnosis of an early lung cancer.

Breathlessness – It is another inconspicuous symptom and can masquerade as a part of the aging of the lungs or lack of stamina or fitness. However, any breathlessness demands a thorough evaluation as it could be an early indicator of lung cancer.

Weight loss – Dropping a few kilograms or loosening of clothes, especially when you are not dieting or exercising, may be ignored by some people. However unexplained weight loss can be a red flag for various underlying health issues, including lung cancer.

Fatigue - Fatigue is so common that most of us will attribute it to the rigors of daily life. However, when fatigue persists despite adequate rest, it may be a sign that the body is fighting an unseen battle.

Hoarseness of voice – A hoarse or raspy voice may result from irritation or injury to the vocal cords. But it is also a lesser-known symptom of lung cancer, which may affect the vocal cords because of the tumor compressing the nerve of the voice box. Any change in voice should be alarming.

Preventive Measures And Lifestyle Changes To Adopt To Reduce Risk Of Developing Lung Cancer

Dr Ali shares preventive measures, and lifestyle changes to adopt to reduce the risk of lung cancer:

1. Foremost among these measures is quitting tobacco in all its forms. Whether smoked or chewed, tobacco is the number one cause of lung cancer. By getting rid of this toxic habit, individuals can greatly reduce their chances of getting this terrible disease. Inhaling secondhand smoke should also be avoided at all costs.

2. Air pollution causes roughly 1 in 10 cases of lung cancer. The levels of air pollutants including particulate matter can peak and drop depending on the time of year and the weather. Every winter Delhi NCR sees the levels of these pollutants crossing far beyond the recommended limits.

So, avoid exercising outdoors, especially during morning walks when pollution levels are high. Face masks (N95 or N99) can help reduce your exposure to pollutants. They don't provide complete protection, however, are quite effective.

Adequate ventilation and air purification systems at your home, office, and car can help reduce exposure to pollutants.

3. Radon, the gas, is a stealthy intruder. Regular testing for radon levels in homes and workplaces, coupled with effective mitigation strategies, can act as a barricade against this radioactive menace.

4. Adopting a lung-friendly diet rich in antioxidants, fruits, and vegetables offers a nutritional shield against cellular damage. Add superfoods and healthy fats to your diet.

5. Regular exercise not only enhances overall well-being but also plays a pivotal role in maintaining optimal lung health. When you are physically active, your lungs work harder to supply the additional oxygen your muscles demand. Just like regular exercise makes your muscles stronger, it also makes your lungs stronger.

6. Routine health check-ups, especially for those with a family history of lung cancer, or people more than 50 years of age with a strong smoking history, could contribute to early detection and timely intervention.

Photo Credits: Goo