Cancer

Speaking out for Lung Cancer Awareness Month: “We’ve got to get rid of the stigma”

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and we’re sharing members’ encounters with stigma and the automatic association with smoking. Lung cancer rates are increasing among nonsmokers, and some members of your community are raising their voices. One concern? The assumption that lung cancer only affects smokers could delay diagnosis and treatment for anyone (especially never-smokers) with symptoms. Some say that stigma also affects funding for lung cancer research. Lung cancer rates rising among nonsmokers As many as one in five people who die from lung cancer in the U.S. every year do not smoke or use any other form of tobacco, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). “In fact, if lung cancer in non-smokers had its own separate category, it would rank among the top 10 fatal cancers in the United States,” the ACS says. Two studies presented at the 2015 World Conference on Lung Cancer showed that lung cancer rates among nonsmokers (especially women) have been increasing over the past decade. The ACS says that avoiding or quitting tobacco use is still the most important way people can reduce their risk for lung cancer, but researchers have found several other causes or risk factors, including: Radon gas Secondhand smoke …

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From tomatoes to turmeric: Can foods fight inflammation?

Inflammation is a hot topic. What’s it all about? And what’s the scoop on certain diets, foods and supplements, such as turmeric, when it comes to fighting inflammation? What is inflammation? Not all inflammation is “bad.” Acute inflammation is part of the body’s natural way of defending itself from foreign substances like viruses, bacteria, cuts and splinters. It may cause redness, swelling, heat and/or pain. The upside is, these symptoms are a sign that the body is responding after an injury or infection by triggering white blood cells and disease-fighting chemicals. But some “other” kinds of inflammation — like chronic inflammation (which may include constant low-grade or systemic inflammation) and inflammation from autoimmune disorders (where the body attacks its own healthy cells as if they’re foreign) — doesn’t always show visible or obvious symptoms and can play a more long-term and complex role, according to Mayo Clinic. Which diseases or conditions does it affect? Mounting research shows that inflammation is a common underlying factor (and possibly a cause) in many — perhaps even all — diseases. You’ve probably heard about the role of inflammation in arthritis or heart health. But researchers and doctors have also studied inflammation’s link to a wide range of other diseases and conditions, including cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s …

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How cancer affects diet + pointers for trying to eat well

Many PatientsLikeMe members have talked in the forum about the dietary impact of lung cancer treatment and how it has hindered their eating. As many as 40 to 60 percent of patients with lung cancer experience unintentional weight loss. Eating well (or as best you can) during and after cancer treatment can help you keep up your body weight, strength and ability to fight off infection. With the help of our Health Data Integrity Team, we’ve rounded up some diet and nutrition pointers for people with lung cancer. Treatment side effects impacting diet Everyone responds differently to treatments, and side effects vary in severity for patients, but here are some common ways treatments can affect your diet. Surgery – Recovery requires extra energy and nutrients to heal wounds, fight infection and recover (physically and emotionally). If your weight is below normal, either before or after surgery, work with your care team to develop a nutrient-rich eating plan. Chemotherapy – It aims to kill cancer cells, but chemo may also damage healthy cells in the mouth, stomach and intestines. This may result in mouth sores, taste changes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation. When more than one drug is given (as is …

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10 hot weather and sun-safety pointers for people with lung cancer

On PatientsLikeMe, nearly 7,000 members are sharing their experiences with lung cancer. The dog days of summer have arrived, so we’ve rounded up some tips for handling the weather’s impact on breathing troubles and the side effects of chemo, radiation and surgery. Hot weather tips for people with breathing issues The American Lung Association reminds those with lung disease that your lungs might be working harder in the summer air. Taking some extra steps may help you breathe easier. Hot and humid weather can cause airway inflammation and add to breathing difficulty. Tip: Use air-conditioners (with clean filters) in your home, if possible. Air pollution (which worsens in the summer due to increased ozone from smog) can also bother your breathing when you have lung disease. Tip: Keep tabs on the air quality forecast in your region, and avoid high-pollution areas (such as jammed highways), if you can. When your body is working harder to breathe, you can easily become dehydrated. Tip: Drink plenty of cold water, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Sun- and heat-safety for people undergoing cancer treatment Certain kinds of chemotherapy can make you more sensitive to the sun. Radiation therapy sites and surgical scars also …

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