Lung Cancer Awareness Is Still Needed
Lung cancer is the second most common cancer and the leading cause to kill both men and women. Many patients exhibit specific symptoms and conditions long before their diagnosis that also point fingers in other directions. Making your patients aware of symptoms and screening processes is just one way to help get the diagnosis early and hopefully combat the illness.
The Symptoms to Watch For
There are quite a few symptoms associated with lung cancer but each patient is different and may only experience a few of them. As stated before, many of these symptoms can point to other illnesses and we should be careful to not cause a massive cancer care. The symptoms are:
- Coughing up blood or red-tinged (sometimes rust colored) sputum
- Coughing that doesn’t go away or progressively gets worse
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain that gets worse with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing
- Feeling weak or excessively tired
- Weight loss and/or loss of appetite
- Bronchitis or pneumonia infections that don’t go away or continuously return
Genetics can play a role with lung cancer on some occasions. Overall, a person who has a family history of cancer does not necessarily mean they will be prone to lung cancer but it can increase their chances.
There are a lot of myths that surround lung cancer that our society can’t seem to shake. The top myth is that non-smokers aren’t likely to develop lung cancer. While it’s true that smokers are at a greater risk, non-smokers are not free and clear. Educating non-smokers about the dangers of secondhand smoke, exposure to radon, and exposure to other toxic substances becomes much more important so that one can stay on top of their health. Another popular myth is that it’s assumed younger people cannot get lung cancer. While older people are typically diagnosed with lung cancer, it can happen to young adults and even children. Especially if they have been living with smoking family members. Young adults who work around radon or other toxic substances are also at a higher risk than if they work elsewhere.
How You Can Help
There are plenty of ways for pharmacists to assist their patients in keeping an eye on lung health. Having reading material from the American Cancer Society is a good first step and requires very little to your already busy day. Another way to promote early detection is to have a list of doctors on hand who will do cat scans to check for lung cancer, it’s one of the top methods for early detection and is being adopted by more physicians. Lastly, take note of your patients that are continuously battling lung infections or even a simple cough. Pulling them aside and asking a few questions wouldn’t hurt to raise their awareness.
Fighting cancer of any type is a community-wide effort and those of us in the field should do all we can to keep our patients happy and healthy. Just a few simple steps in your pharmacy can make the world of difference.