Dr Chris discusses CT scans detecting lung cancer
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Lung cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK, but it’s also the most common cause of cancer death in the UK. This kind of cancer is frustratingly preventable, as the main cause is a lifestyle habit rather than something that is out of your control. Express.co.uk reveals the four things that could prevent you from developing lung cancer, according to Cancer Research UK.
Lung cancer accounts for around a fifth of all cancer deaths in females and males combined, above bowel, prostate and breast cancer.
While your chances of a long life after being diagnosed with lung cancer are slim, this disease is among the most preventable cancer.
That’s why it’s so important to understand the main risk factors of lung cancer in order to significantly drop your risk of catching it.
Express.co.uk breaks down the top four things that could prevent the third most common cancer in the UK.
More than 70 percent of lung cancer cases in the UK are caused by smoking.
Therefore, it makes sense to quit smoking to prevent the disease – even if you’re just a ‘social smoker’.
When you smoke, more than 5,000 harmful chemicals enter your lungs and at least 70 of these chemicals can cause cancer by damaging your DNA.
Cancer Research UK’s advice states that the longer you smoke and the more you smoke, the more likely you are to develop lung cancer.
The site reads: “Stopping smoking is the best thing you can do for your health – the sooner you stop, the better.”
Smoking even less than one cigarette a day is harmful and can significantly increase your risk of dying early compared with people who have never smoked.
Air pollution can cause lung cancer too, depending on the levels of air pollution you are exposed to on a regular basis.
In the UK, only one in 10 lung cancer cases is to do with outdoor air pollution since the nation has quite low levels of pollution compared to other countries.
Air pollution levels tend to be higher in UK towns and cities, especially in the South and the East of England.
While it is tricky to avoid air pollution completely since you can’t stop going outside, Cancer Research UK advises everyone to play their part in reducing air pollution levels to help bring lung cancer cases down (even a little bit).
The site reads: “Walking or cycling rather than driving can help reduce pollution levels and it’s a great way to be more active.”
Indoor air pollution such as second-hand smoke from cigarettes and burning of wood or coal to heat homes and cook can also cause lung cancer.
Keeping any kind of smoke well away from the home can help reduce exposure for yourself others.
People working in some jobs such as agriculture, forestry, fishing, construction, painting, manufacturing, mining and some service jobs may have a higher risk of lung cancer.
Luckily, in the UK, there are strict labour laws that limit exposure to harmful chemicals and other hazards at work, Cancer Research UK points out.
The site reads: “Employers have a legal duty to protect the health and safety of their employees
“However, certain types of work can carry a slightly higher risk, depending on what workers are exposed to.
“For example, working with asbestos, diesel engine exhaust, silica, pesticides and herbicides and working in the sun can all increase the risk of cancer.”
Most lung cancer cases caused by the workplace environment will have been due to exposures from a long time ago, as health and safety rules today are much safer.
The Cancer Research UK advice explains: “Hazards at work are much less of a problem in the UK now because the most dangerous chemicals are banned or can only be used in small amounts.
“UK law means that employers have to prevent or reduce exposure to anything that is known to cause cancer.”
If you think the conditions you’re working in are unsafe, speak to your employer.
Only about 8 percent of lung cancers are inherited or a result of a genetic predisposition, but the risk is still there.
The Cancer Research UK site notes: “Cancers due to inherited faulty genes are much less common than cancers due to gene changes caused by ageing or other factors.
“Most cancers develop because of a combination of chance and our environment, not because we have inherited a specific cancer gene fault.”
However, if you think you may have a strong family history of lung cancer or another kind you must talk to your GP.
Cancer Research UK’s official advice says: “Your GP will ask you about your family and how many members have had cancer, so it is important to have as much information about your relatives’ cancer diagnoses as possible.
“If they think that you might be at increased risk, they can refer you to a genetics clinic.
“Your doctor or a genetic counsellor will be able to give you an idea of how much your cancer risk is increased compared to the general population.
“They might suggest that you have regular monitoring for particular cancers or treatment such as surgery to try to reduce the risk of developing cancer.”
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