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Are You at Risk for Lung Cancer in NJ, CT, MD or the Washington, DC Area?

With knowledge of lung cancer risk factors, people can take steps to reduce their chances of developing the disease. While some risk factors – such as age, genetics, and family history – can’t be changed, others can be. Further, understanding the range of both modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors can provide important insights on your likelihood of developing risk factors, and can help you talk with your physician about your risk profile and any monitoring or other steps that may be indicated. Consult with cancer care medical experts in Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, and the Washington, D.C., area at Regional Cancer Care Associates, and learn about the major lung cancer risk factors.

Lung Cancer Risk Factors

A doctor shows a patient a lung scan

The leading cancer killer in both men and women in the U.S., lung cancer arises because of changes in the cells of the lungs. These changed cells grow faster than normal cells, damaging lung tissue in the process, and forming tumors. There are two main types of lung cancer – small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and the more common non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). There are several subtypes of these main types of lung cancer, as well as other forms of lung cancer, such as lung carcinoid tumors. Becoming aware of lung cancer risk factors can encourage appropriate screenings early detection, and effective cancer treatment. Risk factors include:

  • Smoking: This is the top lung cancer risk factor. While most research has focused on tobacco smoke in cigarettes, pipes, and cigars, researchers also point to marijuana smoke as another risk factor.
  • Secondhand smoke: Family members and others who inhale smoke generated by people smoking tobacco or marijuana nearby also are at risk of developing lung cancer.
  • Lung scarring: Often, this is caused by tuberculosis and other pulmonary conditions.
  • Exposure to environmental toxins and chemical agents: This category includes a variety of gases and chemicals, both human-made and naturally occurring:
    • Diesel exhaust: This affects those exposed on busy roads and in some driving occupations. It’s also a component of air pollution.
    • Radon: This is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that occurs in soil and can be encountered inside houses and other dwellings.
    • Asbestos: A mineral fiber found in rocks and soil, asbestos long was used by the construction industry in domestic and commercial buildings and structures.
    • Arsenic and other chemicals: These might be encountered in the workplace and include coal products, nickel compounds, cadmium, silica, talc, beryllium, mustard gas, vinyl chloride, and chloromethyl ethers. Arsenic found in water supplies also increases the risk of lung cancer.
    • Uranium: This radioactive ore is found in uranium mines, rocks, and some water sources.
    • Herbicides, battlefield emissions, and nuclear propulsion: Some military veterans show an increase in lung cancer risk factors due to these exposures, as have some munitions plant employees.
  • Air pollution: Increased particles in the air we breathe, such as industrial exhaust, as well as microscopic solids and liquids released into the atmosphere, are another lung cancer risk factor.
  • Family history: If family members have been diagnosed with lung cancer, especially if younger than 50 years old, there may be an increased risk. This might be due to shared exposure to environmental factors.
  • Radiation therapy: Patients who have received radiation therapy as a treatment for cancer, such as breast cancer, may have a higher risk for lung cancer.

Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer

People with lung cancer may experience a variety of symptoms. Watching for the following symptoms and telling your doctor about them promptly can help ensure early diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer:

  • Persistent cough, lasting for weeks at a time
  • Pain in the chest, shoulders, or back
  • Hoarse voice and harsh-sounding breathing
  • Bronchitis and/or pneumonia that recurs
  • Blood coughed up in phlegm and mucus
  • Unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite

It is important to understand that many of these symptoms, such as a persistent cough, may represent any number of conditions, and do not necessarily mean that a person has lung cancer. However, it is important to have the symptom evaluated by a physician without delay to identify and address the cause of the problem.

Treatment Options for Lung Cancer

Because there are several types of lung cancer, treatment options vary. Based on the type of diagnosis, stage of the lung cancer, overall health of the individual patient and other factors, the expert doctors at Regional Cancer Care Associates develop a personalized treatment plan for each patient.

These plans may use targeted therapies and immunotherapies, as well as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy in treating lung cancer.

Make an Appointment with a Lung Cancer Specialist in NJ, CT or MD

Awareness of lung cancer risk factors and symptoms can help speed diagnose and ensure early initiation of treatment. At Regional Cancer Care Associates, patients with lung cancer, other forms of cancer, or blood disorders receive the latest therapies and compassionate care from physicians and other healthcare professionals who are dedicated to obtaining the best possible outcomes for their patients. With 25 care centers throughout New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and the Washington, D.C., area, you can find help close by. Make an appointment at a Regional Cancer Care Associates location convenient to where you work and live today.

Let Us Help You Fight

If you or a loved one is battling non-Hodgkin lymphoma, you aren’t alone. Our experts at Regional Cancer Care Associates are dedicated to delivering accurate diagnoses and effective treatments. To find out more or make an appointment, get in touch with us at one of our locations throughout Connecticut, Maryland, and New Jersey.

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