Lung cancer kills 35,000 people in the UK every year.
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and it aims to raise understanding of the disease and encourage people to seek help.
Worryingly, a survey by the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation shows that many British people are unaware of the symptoms of lung cancer.
But knowing the early signs of the disease and seeking help can significantly improve chances of beating the cancer.
The early signs of lung cancer to be aware of are:
n A cough that doesn’t go away after two to three weeks;
n Worsening or change of a long-standing cough;
n Repeated chest infections;
n Coughing up blood;
n Unexplained persistent breathlessness;
n Unexplained persistent tiredness;
n Unexplained persistent weight loss;
n Persistent chest and/or shoulder pain
If you or one of your family members are suffering from any of these symptoms consult your GP for further advice.
Making changes to your lifestyle can decrease your risk of developing lung cancer.
One of the biggest risk factors of lung cancer is smoking.
A staggering 90 per cent of all cases of the disease are attributed to smoking.
Tobacco smoke contains toxic chemicals which can damage your genes and can lead to the onset of cancer.
Giving up smoking will not only decrease your chance of developing lung cancer but will also decrease your risk of heart disease, other cancers and strokes.
It’s not only cigarettes which increase the risk of lung cancer. Cigars and pipe tobacco also contain these toxic chemicals. Smoking cannabis has also been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer.
Having regular exposure to second-hand smoke can also increase your risk of developing lung cancer.
The 2007 UK smoking ban aimed to decrease the levels of second-hand smoke that people were exposed to in public places, especially those who worked in pubs and nightclubs.
If someone in your household smokes, try and encourage them to quit.
This is especially important if there are children in the household.
Encourage them to talk to their GP surgery about stop smoking sessions or support.
An unhealthy lifestyle can also increase your risk of cancer.
You should aim to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and reduce your fat and salt intake.
Although this is very basic advice, it is a small step to take to greatly improve your health and is well worth making the effort for.
Reducing the amount of alcohol you consume will also lower your risk of cancer.
Don’t exceed the daily recommended allowances of alcohol and try to have a few alcohol free days a week.
For more information on alcohol, visit drinkaware.co.uk.
There is a great deal of support available for people living with lung cancer.
The disease is usually treated through a combination of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
Complementary therapies, including reiki and aromatherapy are often used alongside more conventional cancer treatments.
For help and support, contact your GP or visit roycastle.org