Smoking has direct and indirect cancer-related effects on your body.
- Poisons in tobacco smoke can damage DNA. Your DNA is the “brain” of your cell and controls almost all its functions. Any severe damage can promote cancer development.
- Poisons in cigarettes reduce your ability to fight cancer by weakening your immune system. This makes it easier for cancer cells to grow and produce metastases.
With 154,000 deaths, lung cancer is the number one cancer killer in the US. Almost 90% of all lung cancer patients have been cigarette smokers. Of course, the best way to reduce your lung cancer risk is to reduce the number of cigarettes or to quit completely. But even if you stop today, you will still have a higher chance of developing lung cancer for the next decades.
The five-year survival rate for lung cancer is 56-70% percent for cases detected when the disease is still localized (within the lungs).
Once your lung cancer has metastasized to other organs, your survival rate drops down to only 5 percent.
Unfortunately, most patients have reached already a progressed stage when their lung cancer symptoms start- like coughing up blood and weight loss.
Early detection is, therefore, crucial and can save your life.
Many doctors still recommend a regular chest X-ray which can detect lung cancers only when they measure centimeters in diameter – which is often too late.
Currently, the most effective method for early lung cancer screening is a yearly CT scan of the lungs. Such a scan can detect your cancer when it is only millimeters in size.
If you are between 55 and 80 years old, have a history of heavy smoking, and if you are still smoking or have quit within the past 15 years – then you should talk with your doctor about a yearly CT scan.