Lung cancer kills more people globally than breast, pancreas, colon, and prostate cancer combined. In Singapore it’s a number 1 killer among males and number 2 killer among females with only a difference of 100 deaths between breast cancer and lung cancer in females.
So why is that so? It is because it only gets diagnosed in advanced stages 70% of the time. The only time it gets diagnosed in an early stage is when patient undergoes chest X-ray or a CT scan of the lungs for some other reason like pre-employment health check, personal health screening, family members asked to do X-ray because their relative is recently diagnosed with TB, or to investigate respiratory disease symptoms like cough, shortness of breath or pneumonia.
Sometimes it is detected on the CT scan of the heart or tummy which were done to look for the abnormality of the heart or abdomen, and not the lungs. The other reason why lung cancer is the number 1 killer among all cancers is that although getting better every day, the current treatment options are not as effective as for example the treatment of breast or some other cancers. In addition, it does not cause symptoms in early stages and hence goes undiagnosed until it is too late.
What can you do? Beware of the fact that it is not breast cancer, or prostate cancer, or colon cancer that kills most people. It’s the lung cancer that kills most people who die from cancer. Seek a specialist advise if you have an abnormal chest X-ray which does not clarify what the X-ray abnormality exactly is. Ask your doctor if there is a need for a CT scan. If you have family history of lung cancer or any other cancer, inform your family doctor as your risk of developing cancer may be higher. People who have one cancer, are at risk of having another one. Hence if you have been diagnosed with any cancer in the past and cured, stay vigilant. Stop smoking if you do.