Lung cancer is the top cause of cancer deaths in both men and women. But this wasn't always the case. Prior to the widespread use of mechanical cigarette rollers, lung cancer was rare. Today, smoking causes nearly 9 out of 10 lung cancer deaths, while radon gas, pollution, and other things play a smaller role. Newly developed drugs provide new hope for those diagnosed today.
When Smoking Is the Cause
Cigarettes are packed with cancer-causing chemicals. They also disarm the lungs' natural defense system. The airways are lined with tiny hairs called cilia. To protect the lungs, they sweep out toxins, bacteria, and viruses. Tobacco smoke stops the cilia from doing their job. This lets the cancer-causing chemicals build up.
Lung cancer begins quietly. There are usually no symptoms or warning signs in the early stages. As it gets worse, you may notice:
o A cough that won't go away
o Chest pain, especially during deep breaths
o Wheezing or shortness of breath