The idea of developing lung cancer or actually receiving a diagnosis is a worrisome thought. Fortunately, a lung cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence. More people are living longer with the disease, especially with advances in treatment.
1. Know The Symptoms
If you are a smoker, you might be more aware of the symptoms associated with lung cancer. Even non-smokers should have a good understanding of symptoms that might raise red-flags since some types of lung cancer occur more frequently in non-smokers. When lung cancer is diagnosed in the earlier stages, the prognosis tends to be better. Some common symptoms can mimic respiratory ailments, such as shortness of breath or a chronic, productive cough.
Generally, a productive cough might also contain blood. Since respiratory problems can be caused by any number of problems, such as asthma, viruses, or pneumonia, it is important to rule out other causes. Do not be afraid to ask for a second opinion if you continue to have respiratory problems that are unresponsive to treatment.
2. Stop Smoking
Quitting smoking well before you are ever diagnosed with lung cancer is always the best way to reduce your chances of lung cancer. Many people may not realize that quitting smoking after a diagnosis of lung cancer can also improve your prognosis. Unfortunately, it can be harder for a long-time smoker to quit, especially if they are under the added stress associated with a new cancer diagnosis and feel hopeless.
If you have been diagnosed with lung cancer and want to quit, you need to try every avenue for support. This can include counseling to help you deal with your diagnosis and possibly medications to improve depression and anxiety. Talk with your doctor about medications that might help with smoking cessation or using nicotine replacement products.
3. Use Targeted Therapy
In addition to standard treatments for lung cancer, targeted therapy can be used to improve the prognosis. Unfortunately, targeted therapy is only for people diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which is the most common diagnosis, but tends to be less aggressive than small cell lung cancer (SCLC). Some targeted therapies are useful for certain types of NSCLC with epidermal growth factor receptor sites, whereas others can be used in people with cancers that have specific genetic mutations. For people with SCLC, their best chance at a better prognosis might involve trying a clinical trial. When more people with SCLC enroll in clinical trials, it increases the chances of developing targeted therapies for their form of lung cancer.
Although lung cancer is among the most difficult types of cancer to have, there is no reason to lose hope. There are several factors that can help anyone with lung cancer increase their chances of a better prognosis. For more information, contact your local lung cancer center.