Prosperity Life

Lung Cancer Awareness Day is in part in place to help share the stories of survivors. Through these messages of hope, there is an expected increase in knowledge about the disease and, specifically, its causes. 

Symptoms of lung cancer

The main symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • A cough that does not go away after 2 or 3 weeks
  • A long-standing cough that gets worse
  • Chest infections that keep coming back
  • Coughing up blood
  • An ache or pain when breathing or coughing
  • Persistent breathlessness
  • Persistent tiredness or lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss

If you have any of these, you should see a GP.

Less common symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • Changes in the appearance of your fingers, such as becoming more curved or their ends becoming larger (this is known as finger clubbing)
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) or pain when swallowing
  • Wheezing
  • A hoarse voice 
  • Swelling of your face or neck
  • Persistent chest or shoulder pain

The importance of screening and early detection.

The early detection of cancer helps to increase the likelihood of treatment working effectively. Early cancers can show clear symptoms, but that is not always the case. “Screening” is the use of tests or exams to find a disease in people who do not have symptoms. Regular chest x-rays have been investigated as a means of screening, but no increase in lifespan was noted. Later on, CAT scans were used to screen people at risk, which was found to have a profound effect on longevity compared to chest x-rays. One should screen for lung cancer if you are at higher risk (smoker, exposure to radon or asbestos, certain dietary supplements etc.)

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths globally. It accounts for more deaths each year than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined. If it is found at an early stage where it is still a small area and self-contained, it more likely to be successfully treated. However, the symptoms usually only show themselves at an advanced stage. 

Statistical data of lung cancer in Namibia 

The early 2000s

The leading cancers among males in Namibia are Kaposi sarcoma (22.1%), prostate cancer (19.2%), mouth (4.5%), lung/trachea/bronchus (4.3%), non-Hodgkin lymphoma (3.5%), and cancers of the colon (3.0%) and eye (2.8%).Predominant cancer in women was breast cancer (27.6%), followed by cancers of the cervix (17.1%), Kaposi sarcoma (10.3%), ovary (3.2%), colon (2.7%), non-Hodgkin lymphoma (2.5%), melanoma of skin (2.3%) and lung/trachea/bronchus (2.1%) cancers.




“With an average incidence rate of 53 cases per annum on average during 2010 – 2014 (161 males and 105 female) and the latest processed data already indicating 85 cases for 2015 and 65 cases for 2016, lung cancer is on the rise in Namibia”,

Rolf Hansen, CEO of the Cancer Association of Namibia (CAN)

Treatments/preventative action

The two main types of lung cancer are small-cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. These categories refer to what the cancer cells look like under a microscope. Non-small cell lung cancer is the more common of the two.

Treatment for lung cancer involves people from many different departments in the medical field. They will combine forces to give you the best possible care.

The most common treatments are:

  • Surgery. An operation where doctors cut out cancer tissue.
  • Chemotherapy. Using special medicines to shrink or kill the cancer. The drugs can be pills you take or medicines given in your veins, or sometimes both.
  • Radiation therapy. Using high-energy rays (similar to X-rays) to kill the cancer.
  • Targeted therapy. Using drugs to block the growth and spread of cancer cells. The drugs can be pills you take or medicines given in your veins.

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