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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. During this month, health care organizations, professionals and the community bring attention to lung cancer. Lung Cancer Awareness Month initially began in 1995 as Lung Cancer Awareness Day. However, as the lung cancer community and movement grew, activities to promote awareness also grew, transforming the day into Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women in the United States. In 2015, about 225,000 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer. Therefore, it is important to understand a lung cancer diagnosis, risk factors, sign & symptoms and resources for support.

Lung cancer is divided into two main types: non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type, accounting for about 85 percent of lung cancers. There are three NSCLC subtypes: adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and large cell carcinoma. Small cell lung cancer accounts for about 15 percent of all lung cancers and is most often seen in people who currently or formerly smoked.

The signs and symptoms of lung cancer can vary from person to person. However, when symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Persistent coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • A change in color or volume of sputum (mucus)
  • Harsh sounds with each breath
  • Coughing up blood or mucus
  • Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches, bone or joint pain
  • Bone fractures not related to accidental injury
  • Neurological symptoms
  • Neck or facial swelling
  • General weakness
  • Bleeding or blood clots

Often times, these symptoms do not present themselves until the cancer is in later stages. However, new screening techniques for lung cancer continue to be developed, helping to detect the disease at an earlier stage.

If you would like to learn more about lung cancer, check out the following Cancer Support Community resources for more information:

Also, don’t forget to tune in to Frankly Speaking About Cancer on Tuesday, November 25 at 4 p.m. ET for a special episode dedicated to learning more and raising awareness of lung cancer.

Coping with a lung cancer diagnosis and treatment can be emotionally challenging. But you are not alone! There are many ways to get the support you need. The Cancer Support Community offers resources to help support you and your family through this experience. Whether you are newly diagnosed, a long-time cancer survivor or a loved one, you can call CSC’s toll free Cancer Support Helpline® at 1-888-793-9355 to speak with a call counselor who can help answer questions that you have and link you to valuable information and support.

How will you raise awareness for lung cancer this month? Let us know what activities you have planned in the comment section below.