Today starts Lung Cancer Awareness Month. In November, we come together to recognize this deadly cancer and learn about different causes and treatments. Knowing the different statistics and causes could help save a lot of people’s lives.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of death due to cancer in men and women. In 2018, it was estimated that 154,050 Americans died from lung cancer, making it around 25 percent of all cancer deaths. It is also a disease that mostly affects the older population. In 2015, 86 percent of all lung cancer patients were 60 years or older. Lung cancer is also the most prevalent cancer around the world, with 2.1 million new cases of the disease and 1.8 million deaths in 2018.
While there are different causes of lung cancer, the main cause is smoking tobacco. Around 80 percent of lung cancer deaths are due to smoking, with another portion being caused by secondhand smoke— around 7,330 deaths every year. People who are exposed to it at home or work are also 20 to 30 percent more likely to die from lung cancer. Smoking affects men and women differently, with men being 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer versus women who smoke being 13 times more likely to develop it. It’s always advised that people who smoke quit as soon as possible to reduce the chance of developing the disease. Other causes of lung cancer include radon, air pollution, asbestos, diesel exhaust, and other chemicals.
One of the problems with lung cancer is that once it spreads, there is a smaller chance that the person suffering from it will survive. The five year survival rate is 18.6 percent, which is much lower than colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer. This means that 18.6 percent of people were still living five years after being diagnosed. The five year survival is much higher when found within the lungs (56 percent) but only 16 percent of cases are diagnosed at an early stage. Lung cancer is so deadly that more than half of the people diagnosed die within one year of their diagnosis.
One way to decrease the mortality of lung cancer is to be screened more regularly if you are at a higher risk of being diagnosed. It can be more curable at this early stage, and can decrease the mortality between 14 and 20 percent for higher risk populations. Currently there are 8 million Americans that are considered to be high risk, and if half were screened, 12,000 people would be saved from dying.
Get screened if you are high risk and know the different causes of lung cancer to help arm yourself with the proper knowledge to prevent this deadly disease.