There are usually no symptoms or warning signs, but a visit to your doctor might be necessary if you have: a cough that won’t go away, chest pain (especially during deep breaths), wheezing or shortness of breath, coughing up bloody phlegm, or fatigue.
A type of scan called spiral CT may pick up early lung cancers in some people, but it's not clear whether it finds them early enough to save lives.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that heavy smokers ages 55-80 get a CT scan every year. The same goes for those who used to smoke a lot and quit less than 15 years ago.
There are two types of lung cancers: small cell and non-small cell. Small-cell lung cancer is more aggressive, meaning it can spread quickly to other parts of the body early in the disease. It is strongly tied to cigarette use and is rare in nonsmokers. Non-small-cell lung cancer grows more slowly and is more common. It's responsible for almost 85% of all lung cancers.
Being diagnosed with lung cancer can be a shock, but if you smoke, or used to, it’s not too late to make healthy changes. Research shows that people who quit smoking after learning they have lung cancer do better than those who keep smoking.
Don’t be afraid to politely say “no” to secondhand smoke in vehicles or closed areas.
If you know someone who is a smoker in the state of Florida, you can refer them to the “Quit your Way” phone quit hotline at 1-877-U-can-now. Through this service you can get two weeks of nicotine gum or patches to help you quit.
This lung cancer awareness month, you should try to talk to people about lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death, and make a difference too!
This blog post was written by NHC FL member, Natalie Lowe.
Natalie serves at Tobacco Free Jacksonville as a Health Educator.