Did you know that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States for both men and women, and the second most common cancer to be diagnosed? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics from 2014, approximately 200,000 people in the United States are told they have lung cancer and more than 150,000 people die from this disease. The Sussex Warren Chronic Disease Coalition and the Sussex County Division of Health want to raise awareness about this illness by inviting all of Sussex County to observe Lung Cancer Awareness Month throughout November.

According to the American Lung Association, "Lung cancer forms in tissues of the lung, usually in the cells lining air passages."

There are two main types of lung cancer; small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. Smoking and/or long-term exposure to tobacco products is believed to be the most common cause of this type of cancer, with nearly 80 percent to 90 percent of cases linked to cigarette smoking. Genetics, substances in the environment, radiation to the chest, and diet may also be risk factors in developing lung cancer.

Radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer deaths among non-smokers, affecting one out of every fifteen homes in the U.S. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is a decay product of uranium. It is colorless, odorless, and can accumulate in enclosed places, such as homes or other buildings. Its presence can only be detected by testing specifically for radon because the gas is invisible and has no odor.

The survival rate of lung cancer is low, although treatment is likely to be effective when it is diagnosed at an earlier stage. Most lung cancers do not cause any symptoms until they have spread, although symptoms do occur in some people with early lung cancer. The most common symptoms of lung cancer are:

A cough that does not go away or gets worse

Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum (spit or phlegm)

Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing

Hoarseness

Weight loss and loss of appetite

Shortness of breath

Feeling tired or weak

Infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia that do not go away or keep coming back

New onset of wheezing

For more information about lung cancer, please visit the American Lung Association's website at www.lung.org, the Sussex Warren Chronic Disease Coalition website at www.sussex.nj.us/sussexwarrencoalition, or the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/cancer/lung.

For more information about radon, please contact the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Radon Section at 800-648-0394 or visit its website at www.njradon.org.