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Lung Cancer Awareness Month | Smokers put others at risk for cancers

Published:Wednesday | November 23, 2016 | 12:23 AM
Senior Medical Officer at the National Chest Hospital, Dr. Terry Baker.

Persons who smoke put themselves and others around them at risk for lung and other cancers.

Senior Medical Officer at the National Chest Hospital Dr Terry Baker said, "It is not just the person who is putting the cigarette in their mouth who will be affected.

For those who are exposed, there is the risk of not just lung cancer. Cigarette smoking is affiliated with almost every cancer imaginable - cancer of the tongue, the breast, cervix, pharynx and stomach, to name a few."

Dr Baker also dispelled the myth that lung cancer is an old person's disease.

"The dangers of cigarette smoking start from day one. The number-one risk factor for cigarette smoking is lung cancer, whether the person is an active smoker, a previous smoker or has been exposed to cigarette smoking," she pointed out.

Dr Baker, who is a pulmonologist and internist, is urging persons who live and work with smokers to look out for signs of the disease.

Lung cancer is relatively asymptomatic until the disease becomes advanced, and early signs may often be attributed to other conditions.

"A symptom like a cough, which many smokers have, is often overlooked; so, the person may think that this is their usual cough, but oftentimes the character of the cough changes from what they are accustomed to," Dr Baker pointed out.




"The cough may be a blood-tinged, productive cough. The person may start to complain of chest pain, loss of weight and loss of appetite. They may start to have shortness of breath, wheezing, hoarseness, or sometimes they may form blood clots, which may travel to the lungs," she noted further.

Dr Baker added that some persons also suffer from headaches and confusion.

She said that the list of symptoms is extremely long and, therefore, there is no one thing that may definitively point to lung cancer.

World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) International said that lung cancer is the most common cancer in the world. There were 1.8 million new cases diagnosed in 2012, representing 13 per cent of the total number of new cancer cases.

Each year, more people die of lung cancer than colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.

According to WCRF International, smoking is the principal cause of lung cancer and is estimated to be responsible for 85 per cent of all types of this cancer.