Cancer is the leading cause of death in Singapore1 and worldwide2. In Singapore, about 39 people are diagnosed with cancer daily, and more than 6,000 people die of cancer each year since 2017. Amongst over 100 types of cancer, colorectal cancer and lung cancer are two of the most common cancers in Singapore3.
Thankfully, with oncological research making positive progress, we can better prevent and manage lung cancer. Here are the 5 key things you ought to know about lung cancer.
1. What is lung cancer?
Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the lungs, which can inhibit the lungs from functioning normally. There are two main types of lung cancer:
- small cell lung cancer (SCLC) – cancerous cells look round and small under a microscope, and
- non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) – cancerous cells are larger than those of SCLC
SCLC is more invasive than NSCLC as it grows and spreads rapidly to other parts of the body, but only accounts for around 15% of all lung cancer cases. Majority of lung cancer diagnoses are NSCLC.
2. Who is at risk?
Most of us are aware that smoking increases the risk of lung cancer. In fact, tobacco use is reported to account for about 22% of cancer deaths in the world4. However, this doesn’t mean that you are safe if you don’t smoke. In reality, three in ten lung cancer patients are “never-smokers”. Here are the other risk factors of lung cancer:
- Passive smoking: Also known as second-hand smoking, this increases your risk by about 30%!
- Exposure to cancer-causing chemicals such as a naturally occurring odourless radioactive gas called radon, and asbestos – commongly found in corrugated roofs and partition walls of old buildings constructed before 1990
- Age: the risk of lung cancer increases after the age of 40
- Air pollution
- Family history
Essentially, the best way to lower your risk is to quit smoking for your own sake, as well as the well-being of the innocent “never-smokers” around you!
3. What are the symptoms?
Lung cancer is hard to detect in its early stages as there may be no visible symptoms until the disease has advanced. Nonetheless, below are some signs to look out for:
- A chronic cough that worsens over time
- Blood in sputum/ phlegm
- Shortness of breath or continual wheezing
- Perpetual chest pain or infection
- Unknown weight loss and general fatigue and aches
- Loss of appetite
#TiqOurWord Should you develop any of the above symptoms, do consult a doctor as soon as possible. It is always better to be safe than sorry!
4. Can I survive lung cancer?
As with other types of cancer, the earlier the lung cancer is diagnosed, the more treatable it is. The survival rate for early-stage lung cancer can be as high as 80% to 90%⁵.
Once diagnosed, lung cancer is often treated with a combination of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, depending on the extent and type of the disease and the patient’s physical condition.
In recent years, immunotherapy, also known as biological therapy, which boosts your body’s immune system to fight cancer, has gained popularity as an alternative to prolong the patient’s lifespan.
Other than the different drug treatments, lung cancer patients who receive palliative care as part of their treatment are also shown to cope better and live longer.
5. How to prevent lung cancer?
As the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure. You can reduce risk by making changes in your life, such as:
- Quit smoking. If you’ve never smoked, don’t start!
- Avoid second-hand smoke as much as possible
- Exercise regularly
- Consume a low-fat, high-fibre diet with plenty of wholegrains, fresh fruits and vegetables
- Limit your alcohol intake
- Follow precautions to protect yourself from toxic chemicals at work
Of course, the best way to prevent cancer is through regular screening. If you fall in one of the high-risk categories above, especially for former or current heavy smokers (1 pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years⁶), regular cancer screening is highly recommended. The earlier you detect lung cancer, the higher your chances of survival.
Cancel cancer with Tiq Cancer Insurance
Treatments for lung cancer can be costly. While cost varies depending on the type and frequency of treatment needed, it can go up to S$20,000 per month for radiotherapy and immunotherapy, and last on average between six months and a year⁷.
Hence, it is important to get yourself covered for all stages of cancer with Tiq Cancer Insurance for up to S$200,000, from as low as S$0.27 per day. Let us lift the financial stress off you so you can focus on recovering. Let’s cancel cancer together! Learn more
1 Ministry of Health (2020, August 20) https://www.moh.gov.sg/resources-statistics/singapore-health-facts/principal-causes-of-death
2 World Health Organisation (2018, September 12) https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cancer
3 Singapore Cancer Society https://www.singaporecancersociety.org.sg/learn-about-cancer/cancer-basics/common-types-of-cancer-in-singapore.html
4 The Lancet (2016, October 08) https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(16)31679-8/fulltext
5 American Cancer Society (2019, October 1) https://www.cancer.org/cancer/lung-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-symptoms.html
⁶ Cancer.net (2018, June 14) https://www.cancer.net/blog/2018-06/just-diagnosed-with-lung-cancer-answers-expert
7 Value Champion (2020, October 10) https://www.valuechampion.sg/average-cost-cancer-treatment-singapore
Information is accurate as at 5 November 2020. This policy is underwritten by Etiqa Insurance Pte. Ltd. (Company Reg. No. 201331905K. Protected up to specified limits by SDIC. You should seek advice from a financial adviser before deciding to purchase the policy. If you choose not to seek advice, you should consider if the policy is suitable for you. As this product has no savings or investment feature, there is no cash value if the policy ends of if the policy is terminated prematurely. It is usually detrimental to replace an existing policy with a new one. A penalty may be imposed for early termination and the new plan may cost more or have less benefit at the same cost. This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
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