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What You Need to Know About Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide. All cancers are serious diseases and need to be given the awareness and attention they deserve, but what is unacceptable is the fact that the average person does not have an awareness of the signs and symptoms of lung cancer the way they do for other well-known cancers. For instance, most people can tell you one or more of the signs of breast cancer, prostate cancer or skin cancer; very few people can tell you any of the signs of lung cancer. Even more disturbing is the fact that so few medical providers regularly screen for lung cancer, even though early detection can increase chances of survival. So what should you be aware of with regard to lung cancer?

1. You don’t have to be a smoker to get lung cancer. While smoking cigarettes is still the number one cause of lung cancer other causes may be:1

  • exposure to radon, air pollutants, asbestos, silica, diesel engine exhaust, chromium and other carcinogens
  • people with a history of pneumonia, tuberculosis (TB) and COPD
  • people with autoimmune conditions, HIV or AIDS
  • family history

2.  If you have one of the conditions above you should talk to your doctor about your risk and getting a CT scan.

3. Know that some people get lung cancer, even without being exposed to any of the factors listed above.  So watch for the following symptoms and if you see any of these, talk to a doctor. While these symptoms can represent a number of diseases it is better to be sure.

  • Coughing, especially if it persists or becomes intense
  • Pain in the chest, shoulder, or back unrelated to pain from coughing
  • A change in color or volume of sputum
  • Shortness of breath
  • Changes in the voice or being hoarse
  • Harsh sounds with each breath (stridor)

4. Finally, understand that what we don’t know about cancer is deadly, and while great strides are being made in research there is still a long way to go. So support cancer research whenever and wherever possible. Everything we do to support good research can help us get closer to a cure. You can find a host of not-for-profit lung cancer associations listed on

As a final note, if you or a loved one has lung cancer there are a variety of organizations out there that can provide resources to help you, such as support groups, hotlines you can call, and financial and legal assistance. Try checking out one of the following organizations for a list of what services are available in your area.

USA: The Lung Cancer Alliance has a great list of resources available on their help and support pages.

The LUNGevity Foundation provides many support and education programs.

The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (ALCF) has a great list of resources across the United States.

Australia: Cancer Council Australia provides support through local groups for those currently suffering from cancer and their families.

The Lung Foundation has information on resources for those suffering from any lung related disease

United Kingdom: The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation provides support services for patients and caregivers and relief grants to patients.

Canada: Lung Cancer Canada offer patient and family support services.

Egypt: CanSurvive provides support services such as counseling, advocacy, education and resources for patients, families and communities.


Cited in this article:

1 All risk factors taken from the Lung Cancer Alliance  and Cancer Research Center UK.

6 years ago