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Lung Cancer and Copd

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Lung cancer and COPD
Cyndi Morris
September 12, 2013
Laura Prunsky

Why would someone continue to smoke, knowing the risk involved? This is a question people ask every day. It is not only a risk for the smoker, but also for innocent people all around them. Did you know that second hand smoke is now a known cause in cancer? With widely publicized information on the health and environmental consequences of smoking, people still choose to smoke cigarettes. This leads to serious lifelong illnesses such as: lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Though lung cancer and COPD share common environmental risk factors, each disease has different symptoms and treatment options.
Although the consequences of smoking is known, the death statistics of cancer patients is at best, jaw dropping. Cancer is a term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other tissues (1). There are five leading behavioral and dietary risk factors that cause about 30% of cancer deaths: high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol use. Tobacco use is the most important risk factor for cancer causing 22% of global cancer deaths and 71% of global lung cancer deaths (2). This year alone, lung cancer was responsible for 159,480 deaths and there are 228,190 new cases of lung cancer. (Who, 2013). Tobacco smoke, chewing tobacco, or in the presence of tobacco smoke are leading causes in lung cancer. With that being said, ways that you can reduce the risk of getting lung cancer are: smoking cessation, avoid public smoking places such as bars or restaurants, eat more fruits and vegetables, and get daily exercise. Most cancer patients also live with COPD. COPD is not just one single disease but a term used to describe chronic lung diseases that cause limitations in lung airflow (3). The terms one may be more familiar with are “chronic bronchitis” and “emphysema,” but these terms are no longer used. They are now included with a COPD diagnosis. In 2004, the world health organization (WHO) stated “3 million people have died from COPD and currently 64 million people have COPD. WHO predicts that COPD will become the third leading cause of death worldwide by the year of 2030. (Who, 2004). As with lung cancer, COPD has a high death percentage.

In comparison to lung cancer, tobacco use is also a leading cause of COPD. This is more so with the middle and high class countries. Meanwhile, indoor air pollution, such as biomass fuels are the biggest risk factors for low income countries. Biomass fuels are used for cooking, cleaning, and other household needs by almost 3 million people worldwide. In these instances, indoor air pollution is responsible for a greater risk of COPD than smoking or outdoor pollution. Indoor air pollution is reported to kill about 2 million women and children a year. Frequent lower respiratory infections during childhood is another risk factor of COPD. While cleaning, try using an all-natural cleaning product or consider wearing a mask to avoid breathing in deadly fumes. Lung cancer and COPD share similar symptoms such as: wheezing, shortness of breath, difficult breathing, weight loss, tiredness, pain, and exasperation. However, lung cancer’s other symptoms include: repeated problems with pneumonia or bronchitis and swelling of the neck and face. The diagnosis of COPD is confirmed by a simple test called spirometry, which measures how deeply a person can breathe as well as how rapidly air can move in and out of the lungs. Whereas, lung cancer diagnosis includes lung screening methods such as: tests of mucus that is coughed up, chest x-rays, and spiral CT scans. The symptoms of both diseases are similar, however lung cancer has more symptoms than COPD.
The treatment options for lung cancer and COPD differ. While there is no cure for COPD, it can be treated and managed to make the patient more comfortable. Lung cancer can be cured, if caught early enough, and the patient is given adequate treatment. Inhaled bronchodilators are the primary treatment for COPD. Bronchodilator medications are central to the symptomatic management. They are prescribed on an as-needed basis or on a regular basis to prevent or reduce symptoms, depending on the patient. There are no existing medications for COPD that has been shown to change the long-term decline in lung function that is the hallmark of this disease. There are 5 major treatment options for lung cancer: curative surgery, palliative surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or targeted drug therapy. Treatment options may vary depending on what stage of lung cancer or how advanced the cancer is. The main goal is to cure the disease completely or considerably prolong the life of the patient while improving the quality of life.
Being knowledgeable of the risk factors involved with lung cancer and COPD can significantly reduce the risk of contracting these lifelong illnesses. Quitting smoking is the best way to avoid both, lung cancer and COPD. Also, incorporating more fruits and vegetables and getting regular physical activity can significantly reduce the risk of both illnesses. There are several options to get help with quitting smoking, you can go online to, Call NCI’s Smoking Quitline at 1-877-44U-QUIT (1-877-448-7848), or sign up for the free mobile service SmokefreeTXT to get tips and encouragement to quit. To sign up, text the word QUIT to IQUIT (47848) from your mobile phone. Or, go to (4). Quitting smoking is not easy, but with help and determination it is a goal that can be reached. In conclusion, although lung cancer and COPD share common environmental risk factors, each disease has different symptoms and treatment options. Neither disease would be comfortable to live with, especially knowing that something as easy as quitting smoking, being aware of your surroundings, or eating healthier foods could have prevented either lifelong illness from occurring in the first place. Those who smoke should consider quitting and becoming part of the movement to stop secondhand smoke in public places. We only have one life to live-make it count.

Reference page 1. 2. 3. 4.

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