To honour Lung Cancer Awareness Month this November, we look at the history of the campaign, the many causes and risk factors for lung cancer, and what you can do about them.

Why is November Lung Cancer Awareness Month?

Lung Cancer Awareness Month has been celebrated each November since 1990 and has become one of the most significant cancer awareness days in the calendar. That’s no surprise when you consider that lung cancer is the world’s most common form of cancer, with 46,000 new cases diagnosed in the UK alone each year.

The month-long awareness campaign is the brainchild of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, which aims to “ensure everyone diagnosed with lung cancer can live well with the disease for as long as possible.”

The Foundation takes its name from entertainer Roy Castle, who sadly passed away from Lung Cancer in 1994 but helped to drastically raise the profile of the disease and the cause in the months before his death.

Lung Cancer Awareness Month aims to encourage people with the signs of lung cancer to recognise them and do something about it by visiting their doctor – while there is still hope of a successful outcome.

So, what are those signs?

Signs and symptoms of lung cancer

The main signs and symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • A persistent or escalating cough that lasts for three weeks or more
  • Breathlessness
  • Repeat chest infections
  • Tiredness
  • Aches and pains when breathing or coughing
  • Coughing up blood or blood in phlegm
  • Lack of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss

Some of the less common ones, meanwhile, include:

  • Chest or shoulder pain
  • A hoarse voice
  • Wheezing
  • Facial or neck swelling
  • Difficulty swallowing food or even liquids
  • Swelling of the fingertips (otherwise known as finger clubbing)

Of course, many of these symptoms could relate to other, more minor conditions – or can be easily misdiagnosed as a sign of one of those more minor conditions. To work out if you should visit your GP, it therefore helps to know whether or not you might have been exposed to one of the common causes of lung cancer.

How can you develop lung cancer?

man welding

There are many causes of lung cancer – some of which we covered in our recent blog for World Lung Day. They include:

  • Smoking (and passive smoking)
  • Diesel and petrol fumes
  • Bad self-care: poor diet and a general lack of regular exercise
  • Plus, exposure to asbestos, radon gas and other occupational chemicals that can include carcinogens

The nature of exposure to these causes – and combinations of them – often directly impacts the nature of a lung cancer diagnosis. The good news is that if caught early enough, some different forms of lung cancer can be treated and eradicated entirely. And for those with an incurable form, treatments have come a long way since the passing of Roy Castle.

How to treat lung cancer

Treatment for lung cancer depends on the type of cancer present in a person’s lungs. Doctors place these into one of two groups:

Treatments themselves can include surgerychemotherapy and radiotherapy, while options to improve a person’s length and quality of life at the later stages of lung cancer include targeted therapies and immunotherapies.

Each lung cancer diagnosis is as individual as the person diagnosed, so it’s important to weigh up treatment options alongside relevant medical history, and work with doctors to devise the best treatment plan possible, as early as possible.

For more on treatment options, visit this page on the Roy Castle Foundation website.

How to avoid developing lung cancer

While lung cancer can be treated if caught quickly enough, it’s a universal truth that prevention is always better than cure.

Thankfully, there are several things you can do on a personal level to significantly lower your chances of developing lung cancer:

  • Stop smoking and avoid second-hand smoke
  • Eat a balanced diet containing foods with lots of healthy vitamins and minerals
  • Drink less than 14 units of alcohol on a regular basis
  • Exercise regularly
  • Be mindful of air pollution and do your bit to reduce your carbon footprint
  • Check your home for radon.

man in hard hat going through checklistAt the business level, meanwhile, companies can ensure their workforce is protected in any and all settings that might expose them to hazardous chemicals contained in vapours, fumes, dusts and similar.

If you run one such business, then you can do this by:

  • Conducting a COSHH assessment to make sure your workspace complies with the Health and Safety Executive’s Control of Substances Hazardous to Health directives
  • Identifying hazards and those in your employ most at risk of exposure to them
  • Supplying appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to those who need it, along with providing appropriate training on how to use it
  • Providing suitable, COSHH-compliant at-source local exhaust ventilation (LEV) systems that effectively clean the air, removing harmful contaminants from employees’ breathing zones before they can inhale them.

Protecting your workforce against cancer-causing contaminates

Here at VODEX, we’re committed to helping businesses protect their people against the kinds of chemicals and carcinogens that can enter the breathing zone and cause lung cancer.

In particular, we offer a range of LEV systems for a variety of industries, that can drastically reduce your people’s chances of developing workplace-caused lung cancer.

To find the right solution for your business, use our navigation menu above and navigate to your industry, or get in touch with us today to discuss your needs.

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