TV presenter Johnny Irwin has revealed that he has terminal cancer that began in his lungs and has now spread to his brain.
Channel 4 host place in the sun and BBC Escape to the countryside He said in a new interview that he doesn’t know “how much I have left” to live.
He first realized something was wrong when he experienced blurry vision while driving in August 2020. After returning home from filming place in the sun“I was given six months to live.”
November marks Lung Cancer Awareness Month – a disease that many of us think we know about its main causes and symptoms.
However, there are still some misconceptions about lung cancer – it’s not necessarily just a “smoker’s disease” condition.
We talk to lung cancer experts to debunk the myths, so you have all the information you need…
Myth 1: Lung cancer only affects the elderly
According to John Costello, pulmonologist at Mayo Clinic (mayoclinichealthcare.co.uk), “Lung cancer is definitely more common in older people – the average age of diagnosis is 70. However, this may only reflect prolonged exposure to tobacco smoke.” .
This does not mean that you will get it exclusively if you are very old. According to Lisa Jack, MD, a cancer nurse specialist at Perci Health (percihealth.com), “Most people develop lung cancer in their 60s and 70s, after many years of smoking, but sometimes people develop lung cancer much younger, even in their 20s and 30s. the age “.
Myth 2: Smoking always causes lung cancer
Although smoking can increase the chances of developing lung cancer, it is not the only cause.
“Smoking is the cause of most lung cancers and the biggest risk factor, but about 10% of people with lung cancer have never smoked,” Jack explains.
“There are some lung cancers that are hereditary and may not be related to smoking, and others are caused by exposure to substances like asbestos, radon gas, and secondhand smoke” — although he says they are “relatively uncommon.”
Myth 3: You can’t reverse lung damage caused by smoking
“Some of the damage and inflammation caused by smoking is reversible, but in particular, emphysema is an architectural damage to the lung that causes severe shortness of breath and is not reversible,” Costello says.
So quitting smoking may reduce your risk – but not starting at all is much better.
Myth 4: Lung cancer is always fatal
Being diagnosed with lung cancer does not mean certain death, but it is still dangerous.
“Lung cancer has a 60 percent five-year survival rate in people with localized disease,” Costello says. “If it has spread around the body at the time of diagnosis, the survival rate is only eight percent.”
However, he says there are “new technologies in lung cancer screening, such as computed tomography (CT) scans for smokers over 50 with a serious smoking background.” These “may catch very small tumors early on, which can be removed with an 80-90 percent five-year survival rate.”
So if you have concerns about a persistent cough, see your doctor and get it checked out as soon as possible.
Myth 5: You don’t have to worry about lung cancer like other types
According to Cancer Research UK, men are more likely to develop cancer than women (52 percent of lung cancer cases are in men, compared to 48 percent in women). However, these margins are small, and women definitely need to be aware of their lung cancer.
“Lung cancer has been an increasing problem in women since they’re catching up to men in terms of smoking habit, so they’re at risk if they smoke,” Costello says. “Some types of lung cancers related to not smoking are more common in women.”
“It is the third most common type of cancer in the UK, and the second most common type of cancer in women,” Jack adds.
So, whether you smoke or not, look out for symptoms of lung cancer — such as a cough that lasts more than two or three weeks, frequent chest infections, shortness of breath, or aches and pains when breathing — and see your doctor if you have any concerns.