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For Everyone Touched By Cancer

November Is Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Written by Cancer Care Parcel on 
30th October, 2023
Updated: 3rd March, 2024
Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

November is officially recognized as International Lung Cancer Awareness Month. The event is observed globally to increase awareness about lung cancer and to support those affected by the disease. The month-long event serves as an opportunity for individuals, organizations, and advocacy groups to come together to raise awareness, provide education, and support research efforts aimed at improving diagnosis, treatment, and ultimately finding a cure for lung cancer. So what do we know about lung cancer?

Lung Cancer Incidence

Lung cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. The incidence of lung cancer varies between countries, with some countries having higher rates than others.

In the United States, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women. In 2020, an estimated 228,820 new cases of lung cancer were diagnosed, and approximately 135,720 people died from the disease.

In the United Kingdom, lung cancer is also a leading cause of cancer death. According to Cancer Research UK, lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in the UK, accounting for more than one in five of all cancer deaths.

In Australia, lung cancer is the fifth most common cancer in both men and women. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimated that there were an estimated 12,855 new cases of lung cancer in Australia in 2020.

In Canada, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, an estimated 25,500 Canadians were diagnosed with lung cancer in 2020, and approximately 20,600 died from the disease.

In South Africa, lung cancer is also a significant health problem. The exact incidence of lung cancer in South Africa is difficult to determine, as there is limited data available, but it is estimated to be a growing problem.

It's important to note that these numbers are estimates and may vary based on different sources and the availability of data. Additionally, the incidence of lung cancer can be affected by a variety of factors, including smoking rates, exposure to environmental pollutants, and access to screening and treatment.

What is the most common type of lung cancer?

The most common type of lung cancer is non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). It accounts for about 80-85% of all lung cancers. NSCLC is a group of lung cancers that includes adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma. This type of lung cancer can grow and spread slowly, but it can also grow more quickly and spread to other parts of the body.

What causes lung cancer?

The exact cause of lung cancer is not known, but there are several risk factors that have been identified as contributing to its development, including:

  • Smoking: Smoking cigarettes is the leading cause of lung cancer and is responsible for about 85% of all cases.
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke: Non-smokers who are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke are also at increased risk of getting lung cancer.
  • Exposure to air pollution: Exposure to air pollution, including industrial and environmental pollutants, can increase a person's risk of lung cancer.
  • Radon: Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can seep into homes and cause lung cancer.
  • Family history: People with a family history of lung cancer are at an increased risk of developing the disease.
  • Personal history of lung diseases: People who have had lung diseases, such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis, are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer.
  • Exposure to certain substances: Exposure to certain substances, such as asbestos, coal, and uranium, can increase a person's risk of developing lung cancer.

It is important to note that not all people with these risk factors will develop lung cancer, and some people without any of these risk factors may still develop the disease.

What are typical lung cancer symptoms?

The symptoms of lung cancer can vary depending on the size and location of the cancer, but common signs may include a persistent cough, chest pain that worsens with deep breathing or laughing, shortness of breath or wheezing, hoarseness or changes in the voice, loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss, fatigue or weakness, coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum, and recurring infections like pneumonia or bronchitis. However, it's important to keep in mind that many of these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, and not necessarily by lung cancer. If you have any concerns or are experiencing any symptoms, it's important to talk to your doctor to determine the cause and receive the appropriate treatment. Early detection and early diagnosis are crucial to increasing the chances of a positive outcome, so don't hesitate to get checked by a medical professional if you have any worries.

What are treatment options for lung cancer?

The treatment options for lung cancer patients can vary depending on the type, stage, and overall health of the patient. Some of the common treatment options include:

  1. Surgery: If the cancer is localized and has not spread, surgery may be an option to remove the cancerous portion of the lung.
  2. Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors. It can be used alone or in combination with other treatments, such as surgery or chemotherapy.
  3. Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It can be given intravenously or orally and is often used in combination with other treatments, such as radiation therapy or surgery.
  4. Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy is a newer type of treatment that targets specific genetic changes within the cancer cells. It can be used in combination with other treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
  5. Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is a treatment that helps the immune system fight cancer by blocking or activating specific proteins that help the cancer cells grow and survive.
  6. Clinical trials: Some patients with lung cancer may also be eligible for clinical trials, which are research studies that test new treatments and strategies for treating the disease.

The choice of treatment will depend on several factors, including the type and stage of the cancer, the patient's overall health, and personal preferences. It is important to discuss all of your options with your health professionals to determine the best course of treatment for your individual needs.

What is the survival rate of lung cancer?

The survival rate for lung cancer varies depending on several factors, including the stage of the cancer at diagnosis, the type of cancer, and the overall health of the patient. In general, the survival rate for lung cancer is unfortunately lower than for many other types of cancer.

In the United States, the 5-year survival rate for lung cancer is around 18% for all stages combined. This means that 18 out of 100 people with lung cancer will be alive 5 years after their diagnosis. The survival rate is higher for patients who have and early diagnosis, when the cancer is still localized and has not spread to other parts of the body.

In the United Kingdom, the 5-year survival rate for lung cancer is around 15%. According to Cancer Research UK, survival rates are improving, but they are still lower than for many other types of cancer.

In Australia, the 5-year relative survival rate for lung cancer is around 18%. This means that 18 out of 100 people diagnosed with lung cancer are expected to survive for 5 years or more after their diagnosis.

In Canada, the 5-year relative survival rate for lung cancer is around 17%. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, survival rates are improving, but they are still lower than for many other types of cancer.

In South Africa, the survival rate for lung cancer is difficult to determine due to limited data, but it is estimated to be lower than in developed countries due to limited access to screening and treatment.

It's important to note that these are general estimates and the survival rate can vary depending on a variety of factors, including the stage of cancer at diagnosis, the type of cancer, and the overall health of the patient.

Charities and organizations

Here are some charities which are working towards increasing awareness about lung cancer, funding research efforts, providing support for patients and their families, and advocating for better policies and treatments for those affected by the disease. They also participate in events and activities throughout the year, including during Lung Cancer Awareness Month, to raise awareness and funds for their causes.

You can find more companies and charities that support cancer awareness here.

Selection of lung cancer awareness products

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