November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and we're urging people to be aware of the signs and symptoms of lung cancer and what they can do to help to reduce the risk of developing the disease.
Lung cancer remains the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia and the fifth most common cause of cancer death according to Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data.
Libby Jardin, our Make Smoking History Manager, said 90% of lung cancer cases in men and 65% of cases in women were associated with smoking tobacco.
"There are thousands of compounds in cigarette smoke, including more than 60 known carcinogens from multiple chemical classes," Ms Jardine said.
"Smoking causes 16 different types of cancers, including lung, upper aero digestive tract, larynx, pharynx, oesophagus, pancreas, bladder, kidney, liver, cervix and stomach."
Ms Jardine said the health benefits of quitting smoking were almost instantaneous.
"The moment you stop smoking your body begins to repair itself and the risk of developing smoking-related illness begins to decrease," Ms Jardine said.
"Just 24 hours after quitting, your chances of having a heart attack start to decrease and after a week, your lungs begin to heal."
Ms Jardine said although the vast proportion of lung cancer cases were caused by smoking tobacco it was important to acknowledge that 10% of cases in Australian men and 35% of cases in Australian women were not attributable to smoking.
"It is also important to avoid second-hand smoke and other inhalable cancer-causing agents," Ms Jardine said.
"Other known causes of lung cancer are radon exposure, occupational exposure, air pollution, a family history of lung cancer and previous lung disease."
Some of the symptoms of lung cancer include shortness of breath, wheezing, chest pain, coughing or spitting up blood, a persistent cough, recurring bronchitis or pneumonia, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss and fatigue.
"If you present with any of these symptoms, visit your doctor or health worker right away. The chances of successful treatment are much higher when cancer is found early," Ms Jardine said.
For support with quitting smoking call Quitline on 13 78 48 or visit makesmokinghistory.org.au for more information.
For more information about cancer and our support services, call us on 13 11 20.