Kick the habit, reduce the risk

The Cayman Islands Cancer Society is observing May as Lung Cancer and Tobacco Awareness Month.

Lung cancer is the most common cancer in the world with 1.3 million new cases diagnosed every year.

smoking

It is one of the most difficult cancers to treat.

Nine out of 10 cases of lung cancers are caused by cigarette smoking, a link established more than 50 years ago.

The best thing a person can do to reduce their risk of lung cancer, and many other cancers, is to stop smoking or, better yet, never start.

It is, however, possible to get lung cancer if you have never smoked.

In its early stages, lung cancer usually does not cause symptoms. When symptoms occur, the cancer is often advanced.

So far, no lung cancer screening test has been shown to prevent people from dying of this disease. For this reason, lung cancer screening has not been recommended as a routine practice for the general public or even for people at an increased risk, such as smokers. There are, however diagnostic tests for lung cancer, which means you only get tested once you have symptoms.

Here are some facts about smoking and lung cancer:

? Filtered and low tar cigarettes might not increase your risk quite so much, but most smokers cancel this out by taking more, deeper puffs or smoking more cigarettes.

? As soon as you stop smoking, your risk of lung cancer starts to go down.

? 15 years after you have stopped smoking, your lung cancer risk is almost the same as a non smoker.

? Passive smoking (breathing other people’s cigarette smoke) does increase the risk of lung cancer, but it is still much less than if you smoke yourself.

However long you have been smoking, it’s always worth giving it up. The Cayman Islands Cancer Society can help and support you while you are giving up through our free Smoking Cessation programme

Next week’s article: Passive smoking.

Symptoms of lung cancer include:

? Chronic cough

? Hoarseness

? Coughing up blood

? Weight loss and loss of appetite

? Shortness of breath

? Fever without a known reason

? Wheezing

? Repeated bouts of bronchitis or pneumonia

? Chest pain

WHO THEY ARE

The Cayman Islands Cancer Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing the development of cancer through education programs and screening initiatives as well as to providing financial assistance to cancer patients and their families with treatment-related expenses. The Society also offers counselling and support to cancer patients and their families. The Society funds its programs through donations and fundraising events. For more information on the Society call 949-7618 or email [email protected].

Smoking cessation classes

Smoking cessation classes begin 21 May and will be held every Wednesday for six weeks at the CICS office on Eclipse Drive (off Eastern Avenue), from 5:30pm to 6:30pm. Classes are free of charge, and are run by Health Promotion Officer Katie Evans. For more information, contact the Cancer Society at 949-7618 or email [email protected].

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