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World Cancer Day: First signs of lung cancer, prevention tips by expert

By, New Delhi
Feb 02, 2023 08:04 PM IST

Lung cancer cases have been on rise in India in smokers as well as those who are exposed to passive smoking. Here are warning signs you should not ignore.

Lung cancer cases have been on rise in India in smokers as well as those who are exposed to passive smoking. However, it could also affect those who have never smoked. The most common cancer in men in India, most of the patients with lung cancer have a history of cigarette smoking. Smoking damages the cells that line the lungs. While initially your body tries to repair the damages, with time the cells start to act abnormally and cancer is developed. Most of the lung cancers do not show early symptoms, but some individuals do show some symptoms. These are persistent coughing, chest pain, breathing issues, change in voice, weight loss among others. (Also read: World Cancer Day 2023: Top 4 deadliest cancers in India and their symptoms as per oncologists)

Lung cancer is the most common cancer in men in India and the second most common overall(Shutterstock)

"Depending on the part of the lung which is affected, lung cancer patients may experience different symptoms. These symptoms may become more serious or intense as the cancer progresses. Lung cancer, like many other types of cancer, can trigger systemic symptoms that are more general in nature," says Dr Praveen Garg, Senior Consultant, Surgical Oncology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi.

"Lung cancer is the most common cancer in men in India and the second most common overall. 80% of patients with Lung cancer have a history of smoked tobacco use, but the incidence is now increasing even in women and non-smokers, says Dr. Prashant Mehta, Senior Consultant, Medical Oncology/ Hematoncology/BMT, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad.

Lung cancer presents mostly with persistent cough, chest pain, breathing difficulty, hoarseness or change in voice, blood in sputum (hemoptysis), swelling in the neck, and weight loss, says Dr Mehta.


Dr Praveen Garg shares early symptoms of lung cancer.

• A persistent or worsening cough

• Coughing blood or mucus that is rust-coloured

• Chest pain that is exacerbated by deep breathing or coughing

• Hoarseness

• Appetite loss

• Unusual weight loss

• Breathing difficulty

• Tiredness or weakness

• Infections that do not go away or return, such as bronchitis and pneumonia

• New wheezing attack

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. Smoking various types of tobacco, passive smoking, exposure to chemicals and gases such as radon or asbestos in any location, and having a genetic history of lung cancer are all risk factors for lung cancer.


Dr Garg says people must keep themselves away from smoking and tobacco to avoid developing lung cancer and shares ways to prevent lung cancer:

• Healthy diet: Consuming fruits and vegetables in daily diet may also help lower the risk of lung cancer. A healthy diet may help build immunity against lung cancer in smokers as well as non-smoking population.

• Family history: If an immediate family member has been diagnosed of lung cancer, people should get themselves checked to detect the cancer if passed through genetics or environmental factors.

• Avoid passive smoking: It is advisable to stay away from any kind of tobacco emission. Passive smoking is as harmful as smoking.

• No exposure to harmful substances: People should try and avoid contact of harmful substances like radon, asbestos, arsenic, diesel exhaust which might be potential causes of lung cancer.

• Exercise and yoga: Doing cardio like brisk walking and running and some breathing exercises or yoga can help in reducing risks or effect of lung cancer. This will help lungs to function more efficiently.

• Regular body check-up: People should get full body check-ups on regular basis to identify any risks associated to body health. This will help identify development of cancer at an early stage.

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