Lung Cancer Definition
Lung cancer occurs when abnormal lung cells grow in an uncontrolled manner, and can hinder the proper function of the lungs.
2 major types of lung cancer :
- Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC)
Makes up 10% - 15% of all lung cancer occurrences and is considered aggressive due to its fast spreading nature. Strong association with tobacco smoking
- Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)
More common but less aggressive than SCLC
Lung cancer, in Singapore, is the 2nd most common cancer in men and 3rd most common in women.
Lung Cancer Causes
- Smoking : is the number one risk factor for lung cancer. Second hand smoke is also a major risk factor of lung cancer among non smokers. Second hand smoke actually increases the risk of lung cancer by 30%.
- Age : lung cancer is more common in people above the age of 40
- Personal or family history : Riisk of lung cancer is higher if someone in the family have had lung cancer. A lung cancer survivor, may develop another form of lung cancer again
- Air pollution : the WHO estimates that there are about 4 million excess deaths per year worldwide due to air pollution. Those who live in more polluted cities have a higher risk of lung cancer
Lung Cancer Symptoms
There are often no symptoms in the early stages.
In the later stages :
- unexplained weight loss and tiredness.
- loss of appetite
- persistent cough with blood in sputum
- chest pain
- fever and chest infections
The most effective method to reduce the risk of lung cancer is to avoid smoking totally.
At the moment there is still no population wide screening test for lung cancer.
By : Dr Chen Yiming
Family Physician, MBBS (Singapore), GDFM (NUS), GDFP Dermatology (NUS)