Cancer remains one of the biggest killers in America.

According to data from the American Cancer Society, one in every 258 children born today will die of the disease before they turn 20. An estimated 300 every 100,000 Americans contract cancer every year. Currently, the U.S ranks 8th in cancer in women and 10th in cancer in men.

Of all types of cancer, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the country. It is also the second most common cancer in both men and women.

What is Lung Cancer?

Cancer is a disease that causes body cells to grow uncontrollably. Lung cancer is cancer that starts, develops and destroys in the lungs.

Although lung cancer begins in the lungs, it can spread to lymph nodes found in other organs with ease. For example, lung cancer may easily spread to the brain. It is also possible for cancer to spread from other organs of the body to the lungs. This spread of cancer cells from one part of the body to another is called metastasis.

There are two categories of lung cancer; small cell and non-small cell. The two types of lung cancer grow differently and are treated differently.  Non-small cell cancer is the more common of the two.

You’re more likely to die from lung cancer if you smoke than if you don’t smoke – 90% (9 out of 10) of all lung cancer cases are smoking related. The main reason for this is that tobacco smoke contains over 4,700 chemicals with 40 of those being known carcinogens. Tobacco cigarettes also contain more than 30 metals including cadmium and nickel as well as several radioactive substances – all of which have been associated with cancer.

You’re at a higher risk of getting the disease if you’re male – Given that more men smoke compared to women, you would expect men to be at an increased risk of getting the disease. This is actually true. However, the number of women with cancer has consistently grown over the past decade as the number of women who smoke increased. Today, 58% of all lung cancer patients in the U.S. are men with the other 42% being female (Cancer Correct).

Older people are at an increased risk of getting cancer – Researchers from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration department (FDA) indicate that you are also at an increased risk if you’re older. 75% of all cancer patients in the U.S. are 65 years or older. However, if the number of long-term self-care patients increases,

African Americans are at a greater risk – One statistic that has puzzled many, is why African Americans are the most affected. According to an article on the Washington Post, African American are 37% more likely to develop lung cancer compared to white men, yet their exposure to cigarette smoke is lower.

Citing a 2010 report compiled by the American Lung Association, its writer indicates that white men smoked 30% to 40% more than their African American counterparts meaning that their exposure to tobacco smoke is higher. Yet, African Americans still lead the queue in cancer cases. Even Alaska natives and American Indians smoke more than African Americans but less at risk of developing cancer compared to African Americans.

Smokers of methanol cigarettes are more likely to get lung cancer – Apparently, the difference comes in which cigarettes you smoke. 80% of African Americans choose menthol cigarettes every time they want to smoke. Meanwhile, only 32% of Hispanic smokers and 24% of white smokers use menthol cigarettes. Smokers of menthol cigarettes tend to develop higher concentrations of cotinine in their blood – a possible reason for the increased exposure to lung cancer.

With the data above, it’s easy to identify the most vulnerable group. And this group is African American men aged 65 years and above who smoke methanol cigarettes. The situation is worsened when African American communities are targeted with ads featuring menthol brand cigarettes. Being able to understand the healthcare needs of different cultures is going to better prepare healthcare providers to handle and address this kind of information.

If you have or think you might have lung cancer, take advantage of the many cancer resources found online.

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