Smok­ers put oth­ers at risk for can­cers

Jamaica Gleaner - - HEALTH -

PER­SONS WHO smoke put them­selves and oth­ers around them at risk for lung and other can­cers. Se­nior Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer at the Na­tional Chest Hospi­tal Dr Terry Baker said, “It is not just the per­son who is putting the cig­a­rette in their mouth who will be af­fected.

For those who are ex­posed, there is the risk of not just lung cancer. Cig­a­rette smok­ing is af­fil­i­ated with al­most ev­ery cancer imag­in­able – cancer of the tongue, the breast, cervix, phar­ynx and stom­ach, to name a few.” Dr Baker also dis­pelled the myth that lung cancer is an old per­son’s dis­ease. “The dan­gers of cig­a­rette smok­ing start from day one. The num­ber-one risk fac­tor for cig­a­rette smok­ing is lung cancer, whether the per­son is an ac­tive smoker, a pre­vi­ous smoker or has been ex­posed to cig­a­rette smok­ing,” she pointed out.

Dr Baker, who is a pul­mo­nolo­gist and in­ternist, is urg­ing per­sons who live and work with smok­ers to look out for signs of the dis­ease.

Lung cancer is rel­a­tively asymp­to­matic un­til the dis­ease be­comes ad­vanced, and early signs may of­ten be at­trib­uted to other con­di­tions.

“A symp­tom like a cough, which many smok­ers have, is of­ten over­looked; so, the per­son may think that this is their usual cough, but of­ten­times the char­ac­ter of the cough changes from what they are ac­cus­tomed to,” Dr Baker pointed out.


“The cough may be a blood-tinged, pro­duc­tive cough. The per­son may start to com­plain of chest pain, loss of weight and loss of ap­petite. They may start to have short­ness of breath, wheez­ing, hoarse­ness, or some­times they may form blood clots, which may travel to the lungs,” she noted fur­ther.

Dr Baker added that some per­sons also suf­fer from headaches and con­fu­sion.

She said that the list of symp­toms is ex­tremely long and, there­fore, there is no one thing that may defini­tively point to lung cancer.

World Cancer Re­search Fund (WCRF) In­ter­na­tional said that lung cancer is the most com­mon cancer in the world. There were 1.8 mil­lion new cases di­ag­nosed in 2012, rep­re­sent­ing 13 per cent of the to­tal num­ber of new cancer cases.

Each year, more peo­ple die of lung cancer than colon, breast, and prostate can­cers com­bined.

Ac­cord­ing to WCRF In­ter­na­tional, smok­ing is the principal cause of lung cancer and is es­ti­mated to be re­spon­si­ble for 85 per cent of all types of this cancer.

Se­nior Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer at the Na­tional Chest Hospi­tal Dr Terry Baker.

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