Cancer is a scary word. Doctors and scientists work hard to develop better and better treatments and cures for cancers of all types. Many families worldwide have been impacted by it, and the most common advice from doctors, scientists, and families is to catch cancer early. How do you do that? While anyone can be diagnosed with cancer, some people are at a higher risk than others to develop certain types of cancer.
What Makes Someone High Risk?
Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. If you currently smoke or have a history of smoking, your risk of developing lung cancer is higher than someone who does not smoke. Even if you do not, living with someone who smokes substantially increases your risk of developing lung cancer. Regular exposure to other toxins such as asbestos, radon, and diesel fumes can also increase your risk. Family or personal history of lung disease or cancer also makes you at high risk.
So, what can you do to increase the chances of catching lung cancer early? Here are three preventative measures to take.
Although there is no guaranteed way to prevent lung cancer, the number one way to decrease your risk is to stop smoking. Many find that quitting smoking is very difficult, so if you have tried to quit before without success, get help. Your GP will have suggestions to help you and may also be able to recommend a support group.
If you live with someone who smokes, talk to them about the risks posed to you and others in your household because of that person’s smoking. Support that individual in quitting smoking, and in the meantime, work together to establish a safe outdoor space away from your home where they can smoke.
Specific workplaces place people at higher risk for the development of lung cancer due to the types of toxins regularly encountered. If you work in an environment with high levels of dangerous toxins, be sure to follow all company protocols and recommendations for protecting yourself.
Know the Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of lung cancer should not be ignored. If you are at high risk for developing lung cancer, see your GP if you experience:
- Shortness of breath, chest pain.
- Unexplained weight loss or decreased appetite.
- Blood with coughing.
- A change to your voice, such as sounding hoarse.
Don’t just blame these signs on a cold or allergies. Acknowledge that you are in the high-risk category and schedule an appointment to see your GP.
Say Yes to Screening
During your annual physical, talk to your doctor about any concerns regarding your cancer risk. If your GP believes you to be in the correct risk group or have any symptoms that concern them, your doctor will most likely want to order tests. Saying yes can save your life. It is not uncommon for people who develop lung cancer not to catch it until the later stages because symptoms don’t usually appear until cancer has spread. Typical first steps involve a CT lung screening and X-ray , and a complete blood panel to evaluate overall health and look for red flags. Areas of concern will be addressed accordingly. If you are diagnosed with cancer, you have options for your care. A private oncology group whose sole focus is understanding and treating various cancers may be worth investigating when considering treatment options.
A lung cancer diagnosis is frightening. If you know that you have increased risk factors, talk to your doctor about preventative measures to catch problems early.