The assertion that only smokers are at risk of lung cancer is inaccurate. The risk factors extend beyond smoking to include a family history of lung cancer, exposure to pollution, and second-hand smoke
Image for representational purposes only. Photo Courtesy: iStock
Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the world, and it is also one of the most deadly. It is estimated that lung cancer is responsible for around 1.8 million deaths each year, making it the leading cause of cancer-related deaths globally. The good news is that with increased awareness and early detection, lung cancer can be treated more effectively, improving the chances of survival.
One of the most important ways to combat lung cancer is through increased awareness and education. Many people are unaware of the risk factors for lung cancer, which include smoking, exposure to secondhand smoke, radon gas, and certain types of air pollution.
When lung cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, it is much more likely to be treatable. This is why it is crucial for people to be aware of the symptoms of lung cancer, such as a persistent cough, chest pain, and unexplained weight loss, and seek medical attention if they experience any of these symptoms.
Despite the swift increase in lung cancer cases in India, many misconceptions persist. These myths contribute to a markedly low level of understanding and awareness about the disease. Here, we debunk myths surrounding lung cancer.
Myth #1: Only smokers suffer from lung cancer
Fact: The assertion that only smokers are at risk of lung cancer is inaccurate. The risk factors extend beyond smoking to include a family history of lung cancer, exposure to pollution, and second-hand smoke. Therefore, it's crucial to dispel the misconception that this disease solely affects smokers; anyone can contract lung cancer at any given time.
Myth #2: The risk of lung cancer cannot be minimized
Fact: By abstaining from smoking, avoiding exposure to pollution, and using a mask, the likelihood of developing lung cancer can be decreased. Additionally, maintaining a balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity, and keeping a healthy weight are also crucial steps towards reducing this risk.
Myth #3: Lung cancer is exclusive to the elderly
Fact: This assertion is inaccurate. Lung cancer can affect individuals of all ages, from young children to adults, and it does not discriminate based on gender. Both men and women are equally susceptible to this disease and no one and no gender is immune.
Myth #4: Lung cancer equals death
Fact: The prognosis for lung cancer can significantly improve with prompt diagnosis and treatment, thereby proving that early detection has the potential to be life-saving. So, don't delay in seeking treatment once you notice the signs and symptoms.
Myth #5: Opting for lung cancer surgery can be dangerous as it can spread cancer further
Fact: It's a known fact that lung cancer can metastasize through the bloodstream and lymphatic system. However, it's crucial to understand that surgical procedures for lung cancer do not contribute to this spread. Contrarily, surgery serves as a beneficial method to extract the harmful tumor from the lung.
By raising awareness about lung cancer, we can help people take the necessary steps to reduce their risk and detect the disease early, ultimately saving lives.
(Dr Shahid Patel, Consultant Pulmonologist, Medicover Hospitals, Navi Mumbai)