Smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer for both men and women. Inhaling cigarette or cigar smoke, which is carcinogenic, damages cells lining the inside of the lungs. Smoking affects the smoker, but second-hand smoke can also affect those around the smoker. The American Cancer Society estimates 30,000 non-smoking adults die each year from second-hand smoke.
The number of cigarettes smoked and the duration of the habit raise the individual's risk level. Over time, cells in the lining of the lungs begin to react and reproduce abnormally. Nonsmokers can also contract lung cancer from exposure to radon gas, asbestos or other substances, including chromium, tar, nickel uranium, beryllium, vinyl chloride, nickel chromates, coal products, mustard gas, chloromethyl ethers, gasoline, diesel exhaust and arsenic. Alcohol consumption increases the risk-level as does genetics.
Signs of lung cancer generally don't manifest until the disease is quite advanced. Symptoms depend on the specific type of cancer, but may include: a cough that doesn't go away; coughing blood; shortness of breath; wheezing; headache; chest pain; fatigue; unintended weight loss or pain in the bones.
Additional symptoms that may also occur in the late stages of lung cancer including: weakness; difficulty swallowing; nail problems; joint pain; hoarseness; shoulder pain; facial paralysis; drooping eyelids; swelling of the face or arms and/or bone tenderness.
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