Lung cancer is the 5th most common cancer in Australia with around 12,000 Australians diagnosed each year and is the leading cause of death from cancer in Australia.
Anyone can develop lung cancer and while smoking tobacco is linked to 90% of lung cancer cases in men and 65% of lung cancer cases in women in Australia, it is not the only risk factor. Anyone can develop lung cancer – current smokers’ former smokers and people who have never smoked. Occupational exposure can account for a portion of lung cancer cases in Australia. Aboriginal Australians are twice as likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer and twice as likely to die from the disease as non-Aboriginal Australians.
Risk factors for lung cancer include:
• Smoking and secondhand smoke
• exposure to asbestos
• exposure to elements such as radioactive gas
• air pollution
• contact with the processing of cadmium, steel, arsenic and nickel in the workplace
• exposure to diesel fumes in the workplace
• family history of lung cancer
• having another lung disease such as chronic bronchitis or emphysema
• older age as lung cancer is more common in people over the age of 60.
If lung cancer is found at an earlier stage, there is more of a chance of a better outcome. The symptoms to look out for include breathlessness, a new cough or a change to an existing cough, repeated chest infections, coughing up blood, chest pain, unexplained weight loss, lack of energy, hoarse voice, problems swallowing, loss of appetite. If you have any concerns, contact your doctor, whether you are a smoker or not.
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