As November glides by and the holidays approach, don’t forget to pause for a moment in observance of Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Also, today marks the 37th annual Great American Smokeout, from the American Cancer Society (ACS), which means today is the perfect day to get the facts about lung cancer.
The Great American Smokeout on November 15 is marked by encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day.
According to the ACS, lung cancer (both small cell and non-small cell) is the second-most common cancer in both men and women. Overall, lung cancer accounts for about 14 percent of all new cancers. In 2012, ACS reports that an estimated 226,160 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed, 116,470 men and 109,690 women.
Many assume that lung cancer only affects smokers, but this is far from the truth. Anyone can be diagnosed with lung cancer, from heavy smokers to people who have never been around cigarettes in their lives.
While lung cancer can strike anyone, it is important to note that smoking does in fact increase your risk of developing lung cancer. That’s why ACS has been hosting this important Smokeout event for over 35 years.
Other risk factors for lung cancer include:
• Secondhand Smoke
• Age – About 2 out of 3 lung cancers are diagnosed in people over age 65, and most people are older than 45. The average age at diagnosis is 71.
• Exposure to Asbestos or Other Pollutants
• Exposure to Radon
• Genetics & Family History – Genetics may predispose certain people to lung cancer. Individuals with an immediate family member who has or had lung cancer (and who does not or did not smoke) may be more prone to developing the disease.
Never Too Late to Quit
If you currently smoke, it is never too late to quit. In fact, ACS reports that as early as two weeks after quitting smoking, your lung function improves. Quitting smoking can also be beneficial if you have already been diagnosed with lung cancer.
Of course, quitting is by no means an easy task, and many seek help to begin the process. If you are a smoker, try to honor this day by taking time to learn a little bit more about the Great American Smokout. You can also take a look at this helpful guide to quit smoking, or just explore your options. You don’t have to quit smoking today, but today is a good time to consider taking that important step for your health, and for the health of your family and loved ones.
While the Great American Smokeout is focused strictly on helping people quit smoking, Lung Cancer Awareness Month is about a whole lot more. November is the perfect time to honor our friends and loved ones who are currently dealing with lung cancer, as well as those who have already lost their battle. Take a moment to reach out to those who are living with lung cancer right now, and let them know how much you admire their fight. Remind them that there is always hope, and that you’ll be there every step of the way.
Or, check out some other great ways to get involved this month, from sharing your story to shining a light on the lung cancer vigil.