Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death and is the second most diagnosed cancer in both men and women in the United States. Lung cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the lungs grow out of control, forming a tumor. These cells destroy the healthy lung tissue around them. Warning signs of lung cancer can vary from person to person. They may include a cough that does not go away and gets worse over time, a hoarse voice, constant chest pain, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, loss of weight, and frequent lung infections, such as pneumonia.
There are a number of risk factors for lung disease. Cigarette smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer, but it can also be caused by using other types of tobacco (such as pipes or cigars). Other risk factors include:
- Breathing secondhand smoke,
- Being exposed to radon at home or work and other substances such as asbestos, arsenic, soot, and tar; and
- Having a family history of lung cancer.
You can help lower your risk of getting lung cancer in the following ways:
- Do not smoke and avoid secondhand smoke. Make your home and vehicle smoke-free. Cigarette smoking causes 80-90 percent of lung cancer deaths.
- Schedule annual checkups. At your checkups, review your medical history and conduct other appropriate tests. If you notice any concerning changes in your body, see your doctor right away.
- Take steps to eat and drink healthily. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, limit alcohol intake, and stay physically active.
- Get your home tested for radon and be careful at work. Chemicals in the home and workplace can cause or worsen lung disease.
- Talk to your health care provider. If you are worried that something in your home, school, or work may be making you sick, consult your medical provider.
Quitting smoking is the single most important step you can take to improve the length and quality of your life. As soon as you quit, your body begins to repair the damage caused by smoking. Even someone who quits later in life will improve his or her health. There are many resources available to help. All Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) offer tobacco cessation benefits that cover all approved medications and up to four counseling sessions per year to help you quit smoking.
Your Employee Assistance Program Can Help!
Your Component Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is also available to help you quit smoking. For more information, contact your Component EAP or send an email to the DHS Work-Life team at firstname.lastname@example.org.