When it comes to lung cancer, many American women are misinformed, which puts them at risk of dying from this deadly disease.
According to an American Lung Association survey of 1,000 American women, more than half believe breast cancer is the number one cancer killer of women in the U.S. In fact, lung cancer has killed more women than breast cancer for the past 25 years.
Smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer. While a nonsmoker's chance of getting lung cancer is small, exposure to secondhand smoke, radon, dust and fumes of industrial compounds, and air pollution can increase the risk.
For most people, lung cancer is not diagnosed until it has spread to other organs. Fortunately, studies have found a low-dose spiral computed tomography (CT) scan reduces the risk of dying from lung cancer.
The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends an annual lung cancer screening for the following people:
- Heavy smokers - defined as those who have smoked one pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years or more or two packs a day for 15 years or more.
- Those who currently smoke or quit smoking less than 15 years ago and are between ages 55 and 80
Many people with early stage lung cancer do not have symptoms. As the disease progreses, they may experience:
- Chronic cough or chest pain
- Hoarseness, shortness of breath, or wheezing
- Frequent bronchitis or pneumonia
- Coughing up blood
- Weight loss
- Headaches or bone pain
Contact your health care provider if you have any of these symptoms
Take a quiz!
Visit the National Institues of Health at
www.nihseniorhealth.gov/lungcancer/quizzes.html to take a lung cancer quiz and assess how much you know the disease.