Paul Newman answers question at 1994 Academy Awards
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The star first starred in a Hollywood film back in 1954 and over the course of the 1950s shot to stardom. Towering Inferno was one of the star’s successes in the 1970s. The disaster movie went on to win three Oscars and helped cement Newman’s legacy. Newman’s early film career was accompanied by heavy smoking and when looking retrospectively at his career in his older age, the star was reported saying that he was amazed he had survived all that booze, smoking and car racing. Despite giving up the habit some 30-years before his death, Newman still remained at risk of the disease which would go on to kill him.
After being noticed looking particularly frail in the summer of 2008, Newman shut down rumours concerning his health, saying that he was only being treated for “athlete’s foot and hair loss.”
However, by September of the same year news of Newman’s death was made public.
Recent statistics from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that lung cancer accounted for more deaths than breast cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer combined.
In fact, the NHS states that around 47,000 people are diagnosed with the condition every year in the UK.
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As already mentioned, smoking is the “single biggest risk factor” for lung cancer and is responsible for more than 70 percent of cases. This is mainly due to the 60 different toxic substances which are known to be carcinogenic (cancer-producing) within tobacco.
The NHS notes that while smoking cigarettes is the biggest risk factor, using other types of tobacco products can also increase your risk of developing lung cancer and other types of cancer, such as oesophageal cancer and mouth cancer.
These products include:
- Pipe tobacco
- Snuff (a powdered form of tobacco)
- Chewing tobacco.
Smoking cannabis has also been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer. It is estimated that smoking approximately four joints, which contain a mix of tobacco and cannabis may be as damaging to the lungs and 20 cigarettes.
For those who may not smoke but are frequently exposed to other people’s tobacco smoke (passive smoking), their risk of developing lung cancer is also increased.
In a similar vein, for those who quit smoking, like Newman, their risk of developing lung cancer can remain high for up to 10 years after, as Dr Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City states.
Dr Horovitz states: “Once lungs are damaged they don’t grow back. It’s like brain tissue — once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.”
Also commenting on the condition, Dr. Evan Sorett, a pulmonologist and director of critical care at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City added: “It’s a horrible way to go.
“People have to be put on morphine, they are gasping to breathe. It’s a terrible death.”
What makes the condition even more dangerous is the fact that there are usually no signs or symptoms in the early stages of the disease. Over time, the condition will eventually cause the following:
- A persistent cough
- Coughing up blood
- Persistent breathlessness
- Unexplained tiredness and weight loss
- An ache or pain when breathing or coughing.
“For most people. if they wait until they have symptoms of lung cancer, then they are at very low probability of being cured,” said Horovitz.
“The idea is to be examined regularly by a doctor, especially if you’re at high risk.”
Once at the doctor’s many will conduct several to see how much air an individual can breathe in and out. A chest X-ray can also be used to show lung tumours, which show up as white-grey mass.
After being diagnosed, treatment will depend on the type of cancer an individual has, the size and position of the cancer and how advanced it is. The most common treatment options include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and immunotherapy.
If the cancer has spread too far for surgery or radiotherapy to be effective, chemotherapy is usually used. There are also a number of medicines known as targeted therapies. This method targets a specific change in or around the cancer cells that is helping them to grow. Although targeted therapies cannot cure lung cancer, they can slow its spread.
The NHS states that about one in three people with the condition live for at least one year after they’re diagnosed and about one in 20 people live at least 10 years. However, survival rates vary widely, depending on how far the cancer has spread at the time of diagnosis. Early diagnosis can make a big difference.
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