Lung cancer leading cause of Canadian cancer deaths

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To the editor,

As of 2013, lung cancer is still the leading cause of cancer death in Canada, for both men and women. On average, 70 Canadians will be diagnosed with lung cancer every day and each day 55 Canadians will die from lung cancer.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Physicians encourage all Nova Scotians to educate themselves on lung cancer symptoms and prevention.

The number one cause of lung cancer is smoking. In Canada, more than 90 per cent of lung cancer in men and at least 70 per cent of lung cancer in women is caused by smoking. Tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of death in Nova Scotia. While the average smoking rate in Canada has fallen to 17 per cent during the past five years, Nova Scotia’s smoking rate has stayed at 20 per cent.

Symptoms of lung cancer include a cough that won’t go away or gets worse over time, chronic chest pain, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, wheezing, hoarse voice, chronic pneumonia or bronchitis, swollen face and neck, loss of appetite, and fatigue.

Smoking cigarettes, cigars and pipes are main causes of lung cancer. Other risks of contracting the disease include regularly breathing second-hand smoke or exposure to radon, asbestos, and other toxic products such as uranium, arsenic, and some petroleum products.

The best way to prevent lung cancer is to quit smoking. It’s never too late to quit. Not smoking reduces risk of lung cancer significantly. Avoid second-hand smoke as much as possible and ensure that your home is checked for radon.

Doctors Nova Scotia is a strong advocate for the cessation for smoking. During Lung Cancer Awareness Month, please take the time to research the symptoms and prevention for lung cancer.

For help to quit smoking and more information on lung cancer, visit 

Mike Fleming, BSc, MD, CCFP, FCFP

, Doctors Nova Scotia

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Canada

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