Lung cancer, often referred to as the silent killer, is a disease that claims countless lives each year. It infiltrates the lungs, and by the time it reveals its presence, it has often reached advanced stages. That’s why it's essential to be well-informed about its signs, risk factors, and preventive measures.
To shed light on this critical topic, we had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Catherine Jordan-Lorenzo, a pulmonologist at Doctor Anywhere. In this article, we’ll look into her expert insights to understand lung cancer better.
Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer
"Lung cancer is considered the leading cause of cancer deaths, not only here in our country but unfortunately, even worldwide," Dr. Catherine begins. Lung cancer often remains asymptomatic during its early stages, making it challenging to detect. However, as the disease progresses, several warning signs may surface. These include:
Persistent Cough: A cough lasting more than two weeks, often referred to as "matagal na ubo", can be an early sign.
Hemoptysis: Coughing up blood is a concerning symptom that should not be ignored.
Dyspnea: Shortness of breath, especially during physical activity, could indicate a problem.
Pleuritic Pain: Chest pain experienced while breathing deeply or coughing should be investigated.
Hoarseness of Voice: This can occur if the tumor affects nearby nerves.
Unwanted Weight Loss: Significant, unexplained weight loss can be a red flag.
These symptoms may seem subtle at first but should not be ignored, especially if they persist or worsen over time. Dr. Catherine's advice here is crystal clear – if you notice any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical consultation rather than attempting self-medication. Early detection can make a substantial difference in the treatment options available.
The Role of Smoking and Other Contributing Factors
"Actually, there is data that 85% of lung cancer cases are caused by smoking," Dr. Catherine explains. Smoking, whether you are an active smoker or exposed to second-hand smoke, remains the most significant risk factor. Cigarette smoke contains carcinogens, substances that damage the lining of the lungs and can lead to cancer.
Besides smoking, other factors play a role, such as genetics and environmental exposures. A family history of lung cancer increases your susceptibility, while exposure to substances like asbestos can also raise the risk.
In essence, while smoking is the primary risk factor, genetic and environmental factors can contribute to the development of lung cancer.
How to Reduce the Risk of Lung Cancer
To reduce your risk of developing lung cancer, Dr. Catherine offers some valuable advice:
Quit Smoking: If you are a current smoker or exposed to smoke, quitting is the best step you can take. She also warns against considering vaping or e-cigarettes as alternatives. "It's just a disguised form of smoking," she notes, highlighting the continued risk associated with nicotine, the primary carcinogen responsible for lung cancer.
Avoid Second-hand Smoke: Minimize exposure to smoking environments.
Genetic Screening: If you have a family history of lung cancer, consider genetic screening.
Regular Screening: For high-risk individuals, early screening is crucial. Detecting the disease in its early stages improves treatment options.
Seek Medical Advice: If you experience unusual symptoms, such as a persistent cough lasting more than two weeks, consult a primary care doctor or a specialist like a pulmonologist. Early detection is key to effective treatment.
Dr. Catherine emphasizes the importance of not ignoring symptoms, stating, "Prevention is always better than cure." Detecting lung cancer during its early phase provides more treatment options and better chances of recovery.
If you or your loved ones need medical support and advice, our doctors are just a tap away. See a GP 24/7 on demand or by appointment, or book an appointment with our specialists through the Doctor Anywhere app. Get the free app and sign up to get started.
We're also partners with leading HMOs and health insurance providers! Maxicare and Generali members enjoy full coverage for video consultations with both general practitioners and specialists, without the need for an LOA. Video consultations with general practitioners are fully covered and do not require an LOA for members of Cocolife Healthcare, Etiqa, EastWest Healthcare, HMI, Lacson & Lacson Insurance Brokers, and Cigna.
Link your corporate HMO or insurance by logging in to the Doctor Anywhere app. Tap 'Profile' > 'Membership & Benefits' > 'Link membership' to access and enjoy your benefits.