Stealing the last breath: Lung Cancer

According to the National Cancer Centre Singapore, lung cancer ranked second in the top 10 cancers affecting Singapore men, and third for ladies. It is also ranked first in the top 10 frequent cancer deaths for men, and second for women.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells which starts off in one or both lungs, usually in the cells that line the air passages. Unlike normal cells, these abnormal cells do not grow and develop into lung tissues; they divide rapidly and form tumours which interfere with the normal functioning of the lung. Primary lung cancer originates in the lungs while secondary lung cancer starts somewhere else in the body, metastasizes and reaches the lungs. Most of the people diagnosed with lung cancer are above the age of 40.

Causes

The main cause of lung cancer is smoking. Smokers have 15-25 times the risk of developing lung cancer than non-smokers – the higher the amount of cigarettes smoked and the longer the duration of smoking, the higher the risk.

Second hand smokers also have a 30 per cent risk of developing lung cancer.

Despite the strong association between smoking and lung cancer, a quarter of lung cancer cases in Singapore occur in people who have never smoked or exposed to second-hand smoke. Exposure to workplace chemicals such as coal gas, chromium and nickel may also increase the risk of lung cancer.

Symptoms

• Persistent or intense coughing
• Pain in the chest shoulder, or back from coughing
• Changes in colour of sputum
• Diffculty breathing and swallowing
• Hoarseness of the voice
• Harsh sounds while breathing
• Chronic bronchitis or pneumonia
• Coughing up blood, or blood in the sputum

 

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