October is passing by a lot quicker than we would like but in October comes an opportunity for you to make a change to your daily routine that will be incredibly beneficial for your future.
Stoptober is a month long campaign that has seen over 210,000 people sign up to try and quit smoking for good, and urges each and every one of you smokers to join in.
Quitting the habit may seem like the most difficult challenge you will have to face- and it possibly could be- but for the sake of a healthier you, it will most certainly be worthwhile.
Despite many wanting to quit smoking to save the pennies, smoking is increasingly damaging to your health.
Although most admit to being aware of the repercussions it still proves tricky to quit.
Lung cancer is most commonly caused by smoking and although the symptoms are not always noticeable until the disease has reached a later stage, the earlier any cancer is diagnosed, the better the outlook for the patient.
According to research, lung cancer kills more women in Britain than any other cancer and 41,000 cases of lung cancer diagnosed in the UK every year, over 85% of cases is caused by smoking.
Linda Murphy, 65 from Skelmersdale, had an unpleasant shock when she started coughing up blood, one of the most common symptoms of lung cancer.
"I immediately knew there was a problem. I had been a smoker for as long as I can remember and obviously I had heard about the dangers, but I always thought 'it won't happen to me'. As soon as I started coughing blood I vowed that I would stop smoking, and instantly booked an appointment with my GP."
Her GP referred her to her local district hospital for further tests. In July of this year she was seen by a chest specialist and given a PET scan. The tests revealed that Linda had non-small cell lung cancer.
Non-small cell lung cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the tissues of the lung. About 85 to 90 per cent of lung cancers are non-small cell lung cancer.
"I have not touched a cigarette since June. I had tried to give up before, but I think I needed to see the reality of the damage that smoking can do before I could really believe it. I wanted to ensure that my treatment had the best chance of success as possible and this offered me all the motivation I needed to quit."
Linda is still waiting on the results of her treatment which will be available in December.
Signs and symptoms
"The most common symptom of lung cancer is a continuing cough, which can develop into coughing up blood-stained phlegm", says Dr Ernie Marshall, a consultant in medical oncology at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre and a specialist in lung cancer.
However there are many other, lesser known symptoms to be alert of, which include:
- Chest or shoulder pain
- Weight loss
- The ends of fingers becoming larger or looking more rounded (clubbing)
- Swelling of lymph nodes (glands) in the neck area
- Becoming breathless and wheezy
- A hoarse voice
- A dull ache or sharp pain when you cough or take a deep breath
- Difficulty swallowing
Dr Ernie Marshall adds, "Exposure to passive smoking and other chemicals can also increase the risk of developing lung cancer. However, it's important not to think it's impossible for you to contract lung cancer if none of the above apply to you, as there are always anomalies."
Prevention of lung cancer
"Firstly, and most importantly, not smoking or stopping smoking is the best way to try and avoid lung cancer. However long you have been smoking, it is always worth quitting. After just 48 hours of not smoking, there is no nicotine left in the body, meaning that the addictive factor has been removed from your body. After 10 years the risk of lung cancer falls to half that of a smoker and risk of heart attack falls to the same as someone who has never smoked.
"Also, research suggests that eating a diet that is low in fat and high in fibre can help reduce your risk of lung cancer, as well as other types of cancer and heart disease. There is now supporting evidence that flavonoids, found in many fruits and vegetables, can help reduce the risk of lung cancer, so ensure you eat at least five fruit and vegetables a day."
Visit your GP if you have any of the above symptoms.