Lung cancer is serious condition that requires serious treatment. In fact, more people in the United States die from lung cancer than any other cancer. If you are concerned about developing the disease, learn everything you can about it. The team at St. Anthony's Hospital is here to answer all your questions and is ready to help you guard your health.
Risks and Symptoms: Get Educated
While the causes of some cancers are still being debated, most people agree that the majority of lung cancer cases can be traced back to smoking. Here are some risks to consider.
Smoking: If you smoke, you are at the greatest risk for lung cancer. The more you smoke, the higher your chances of developing the disease.
Secondhand smoke: Even if you don't smoke, you may be exposed to its effects. Inhaling secondhand smoke is also a leading risk in developing lung cancer.
Chemical exposure: There are a number of chemicals that are believed to cause cancer. Among these are asbestos, chromium, and arsenic, and you could be exposed to these at work and in other buildings.
Radon exposure: Some homes and other buildings can have unsafe levels of radon, which is a gas produced as uranium breaks down in soil and rock. You can have your home checked to determine its radon level.
Alcohol: It is believed that heavy drinking can play a role in developing lung and other cancers.
Lung disease: If you already have a lung disease, you're at increased risk of lung cancer.
Family history: If you have a close family member who has had lung cancer, this can increase your risk as well. The connection is not genetic; instead, there is a good chance you have been exposed to similar environmental factors, such as smoke, radon, or chemicals.
If you want to prevent lung cancer, there are a number of steps you can take.
Stop smoking: This is the most important one. Research shows that quitting smoking, no matter how late in life, can reduce your chances of getting lung cancer. And if you don't smoke, don't start.
Clear the air: If you are exposed to secondhand smoke, make changes to your environment. If a family member smokes, ask him to smoke only outside or encourage him to quit. You and other people in your family should not be exposed to the smoke. St. Anthony's Hospital is a tobacco-free campus, demonstrating another example of our commitment to improving the health of the communities we serve.
Get checked: Talk to your employer and make sure your workplace is safe from asbestos and other chemicals. If the nature of your work involves chemical exposure, be sure to wear a mask and talk to your doctor about other precautions you can take. Have your home checked for radon.
Be healthy: In staving off any disease, it's important to treat your body well. The American Cancer Society suggests that everyone participate in 45 to 60 minutes of physical activity at least five times a week. Watch your diet, and include lots of fruits and vegetables. If you choose to drink, be moderate. Doctors suggest no more than one drink a day for women, two for men.
One thing that makes lung cancer such a worrisome condition is that symptoms seldom present themselves until the disease is fairly advanced. So it's important to watch out for these signs:
- A persistent cough
- Coughing up blood
- A wheezing sound as you breathe
- Shortness of breath
- A hoarseness in your voice
- Pain in your chest
- Unexplained weight loss
If you have any of these symptoms, or a combination of them, don't hesitate to contact your doctor and be evaluated.
For more information on lung cancer care and screenings at The Cancer Center at St. Anthony’s Hospital, please call (727) 825-1253.
St. Anthony's Cancer Center
1201 5th Ave. N., Suite 130
St. Petersburg, FL 33705
Phone: (727) 825-1253
Fax: (727) 825-1332