Breaking the myths around lung cancer

Lung cancer is one of the biggest killers in today’s world, yet the number of misconceptions people have about this disease is surprising. The fact that a lot of people consider lung cancer as a self-inflicted disease due to excessive smoking builds a lot of negativity around this form of cancer. But the truth could not be farther away from this.

Sometimes, it can be hard to distinguish fact from fiction, but the essential point is that lung cancer, like every other cancer can occur due to various reasons and there is no way, anyone can predict who can get lung cancer and who cannot.

In this article, we will address few myths and misconceptions surrounding lung cancer and show you the fact behind the fiction.

Myth: Only smokers get lung cancer

Fact: Although smoking is the main cause of lung cancer, and the risk of getting lung cancer is considerably higher for smokers – about 15% -20% of all lung cancer related cases occur for people who have never smoked. There are various other risk factors for lung cancer as well, such as, exposure to radon gas, exposure to second-hand smoking, air pollution, family history etc. Any of these risks could cause lung cancer, even if the patient never smoked a cigarette ever.

Myth: Only men get lung cancer

Fact: Even though the incidence of lung cancer is higher among men, that does not mean women are safe from it. Lung cancer spares neither men nor women. Lung cancer closely follows breast cancer as the leading cancer among women and is the leading cause of cancer-related death among women. In fact, in the United States, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among women – almost twice as many deaths as caused by breast cancer.

Myth: Young people do not get lung cancer

Fact: The incidence of lung cancer is quite high among people above the age of 65, however, this does not mean that young people cannot get lung cancer. Young men and women and even small children are susceptible to lung cancer. The most common type of lung cancer among young people is lung adenocarcinoma – a type of non-small cell lung cancer.

Myth: Older people with lung cancer do not require treatment

Fact: While older people may have additional health issues which can impact the treatment for lung cancer, this however, does not mean that they cannot benefit from lung cancer treatment. Statistics prove that a lot of older people enjoy increased survival rate post lung cancer treatment.

Myth: There’s nothing that can be done to lower the risk of lung cancer

Fact: In fact, there are many things that individuals can do to lower the risk of getting lung infection. Of course, there is no sure-fire way to prevent lung cancer, or any cancer for that matter, however some precautions can be taken to lower the risk of getting lung cancer. Some of them are – quit smoking, do not start smoking, exercise regularly, switch to a healthy diet of lots of fruits and vegetables, avoid exposure to second-hand smoke or chemical fumes, test your home of radon.

Myth: If we already have lung cancer, then we do not need to quit smoking

Fact: People diagnosed with lung cancer should quit smoking (if they were doing so before the diagnosis). Quitting smoking will help in getting better results from the surgery and subsequently raise the success rate of the treatment. People who quit smoking post their diagnosis also face less complications during their surgery. People who quit smoking also have fewer side effects from chemotherapy and targeted therapy drugs, when compared to people who still smoke.

Myth: Lung cancer is not treatable

Fact: There are various methods of treating lung cancer and if detected early, lung cancer patients have a far greater chance of survival.  Depending on the stage of the cancer, the various treatment options available are: Chemotherapy, Surgery, Radiation Therapy and Targeted Therapy. Even if lung cancer has reached a stage where it cannot be cured, it can still be treated to improve the survival rate of the patient.

Myth: Lung cancer always comes with a cough

Fact: While coughing is a common symptom among lung cancer patients, it is not a symptom to look out for. In fact, a major portion of lung cancer patients do not show any symptoms at all. Lung cancer symptoms can take years to appear and can occasionally be confused with our health conditions. For individuals belonging to the high-risk category, routine check-ups and screenings are a must!

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Myth: Lung cancer can be diagnosed through blood tests

Fact: Lung cancer cannot be detected through blood tests. The only way to detect lung cancer is through a biopsy (needle biopsy or open lung biopsy) or by inserting a bronchoscope into the throat.