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Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Welding and cutting fume removalOil mist removalVehicle exhaust removalVehicle exhaust extraction in fire stations 23 Oct 2023 Health risksGeneralWorking safely

What is lung cancer?

Lung cancer happens when cells in the lung change (or mutate). Most often, this is because of exposure to dangerous chemicals that we breathe. But lung cancer can also happen in people with no known exposure to toxic substances. Unlike normal cells, cancer cells grow uncontrollably and cluster together to form a tumor, destroying healthy lung tissue around them. Symptoms usually do not appear until cancer cells spread to other parts of the body and prevent other organs from functioning properly. At this point, it is harder to treat lung cancer.

Key Points

  • Lung Cancer Screening and Surgery – A Patient’s Story (Short)
    Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S.
  • Smoking poses the greatest risk, but there are others such as exposure to radon and air pollution.
  • Screening high risk individuals has the potential to dramatically improve lung cancer survival rates.

There are multiple types of lung cancer. Knowing this information can help inform treatment options.

'Air quality and lung health - the risks' infographic provided by ELF

What Causes Lung Cancer?

Anyone can get lung cancer. Lung cancer happens when cells in the lung mutate or change. Various factors can cause this mutation (a permanent change in the DNA sequence of a gene) to happen. Most often, this change in lung cells happens when people breathe in dangerous, toxic substances. Even if you were exposed to these substances many years ago, you are still at risk for lung cancer. Talk to your doctor if you have been exposed to any of the substances listed below, and take steps to reduce your risk and protect your lungs.

Health Benefits of Quitting Smoking


Smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer. It causes about 90 percent of lung cancer cases. Tobacco smoke contains many chemicals that are known to cause lung cancer. If you still smoke, quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do for your lung health.

Smokers are not the only ones affected by cigarette smoke. If you are a former smoker, your risk is decreased, but has not gone away completely—you can still get lung cancer. Non-smokers also can be affected by smoking. Breathing in secondhand smoke puts you at risk for lung cancer or other illnesses.


Radon exposure is the second-leading cause of lung cancer. Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that exists naturally in soil. It comes up through the soil and enters buildings through small gaps and cracks. One out of every 15 homes in the U.S. is subject to radon exposure. Exposure to radon combined with cigarette smoking seriously increases your lung cancer risk.

Hazardous Chemicals

Exposure to certain hazardous chemicals poses a lung cancer risk. Working with materials such as asbestos, uranium, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, nickel and some petroleum products is especially dangerous. If you think you may be breathing in hazardous chemicals at your job, talk to your employer and your doctor to find out to protect yourself.

Air pollution and lung health

Particle Pollution

Particle pollution refers to a mix of very tiny solid and liquid particles that are in the air we breathe. Evidence shows that particle pollution—like that coming from exhaust smoke—increases the risk of lung cancer.


Genetic factors also may play a role in one's chances of developing lung cancer. A family history of lung cancer may mean you are at a higher risk of getting the disease. If others in your family have or ever had lung cancer, it's important to mention this to your doctor.


Provided by American Lung Association

Symptoms & Diagnosis

Lung Cancer Symptoms & Diagnosis

Most commonly, doctors suspect somebody might have lung cancer when they see something on an imaging test such as a CT scan that looks like it could be a tumor. Lung cancer doesn't always cause symptoms in the early stages. Sometimes patients don't have any symptoms at all. Diagnosing lung cancer is a process that involves not just detecting lung cancer but understanding how much it has spread and testing for biomarkers—information that can help determine your best treatment plan.

What Are the Symptoms of Lung Cancer?

Many people with lung cancer don't have symptoms until the disease is in its later stages. Because there are very few nerve endings in the lungs, a tumor could grow without causing pain or discomfort. When symptoms are present, they are different in each person, but may include:

  • A cough that doesn't go away and gets worse over time
  • Hoarseness
  • Constant chest pain
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Frequent lung infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia
  • Coughing up blood

Some symptoms of lung cancer may not seem related to the lungs or breathing. These symptoms can still be a sign of lung cancer because lung cancer usually does not cause symptoms in its earlier stages. This means some symptoms do not appear until the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Some of these symptoms may include:

  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headaches
  • Bone pain or fractures
  • Blood clots

See your doctor right away if you notice any of these symptoms. If you think you are at risk for lung cancer, talk to your doctor about being screened.

Some people, unfortunately, go misdiagnosed for a long time because their symptoms are similar to other diagnoses such as pneumonia, allergies or a cold. If you feel that something is wrong, be persistent with your doctor. You know your body best, and being persistent could save your life.

Raising awareness

Lung cancer is one of the most common and deadliest cancers globally. Lung Cancer Awareness Month is observed to raise awareness about lung cancer, its risks, prevention, early detection, and treatment every November. During this month, various organizations, healthcare professionals, and individuals come together to promote awareness and education about lung cancer.

Plymovent, supplier of solutions for clean air at work, supports this initiative by sharing information about lung cancer and making an annual donation to the American Lung Association and European Lung Foundation.

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