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It's Not Fun: Facts About Lung Cancer for Kids

written by: Donna Cosmato • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 8/18/2010

Need to teach the dangers of smoking? Use these not really fun facts for kids about lung cancer to illustrate the effects of smoking on the lungs.

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    Lung cancer is a deadly killer. According to the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center, lung cancer is “one of the most common cancers in the world.” (1) Lung cancer develops slowly and is difficult to detect in the early stages.

    Cigarettes 

    Wikimedia Commons/Tomasz Sienicki/GNUFDL

    Once this cancer is detected, immediate treatment by qualified professionals offers the best hope for successful treatment and cure of this stealthy disease. Most lung cancers are linked to smoking, so the safest preventative medicine is educating individuals about the link between smoking and lung cancer. Is smoking fun? Facts for kids about lung cancer prove otherwise.

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    What Kids Ought to Know about Lung Cancer

    Here are some easy-to-understand facts and figures for children:

    • Lung cancer can be prevented. If you smoke, stop immediately – if you do not smoke, do not start – smoking cigarettes are the cause of most lung cancers. The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance states: “Close to 90 percent of lung cancers are smoking related.” (2)
    • Other causes of lung cancer are: exposure to asbestos, breathing smoke from other people’s cigarettes (sometimes referred to as secondhand smoke), using smokeless tobaccos like chewing tobacco or snuff, or air pollution.
    • While non-smokers can get lung cancer, the chances of contracting the disease are much lower for smoke-free individuals than for smokers. Smokers who quit the habit decrease their risk of lung cancer by over 80 percent.
    • There are only two types of lung cancer – small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. In simple terms, these cancer cells are identified and named for their appearance. Of the two types, non-small cell cancer is more prevalent, but its growth and spread are slower than small cell lung cancer.
    • Unlike cold or the flu, there are usually no warnings to alert someone to the development of these cancerous cells. By the time symptoms, like continuous coughing or bloody discharge appear, the cancer has grown and spread dangerously.
    • If the doctor suspects someone has this type of cancer, he will send them for testing – x-rays or a biopsy – to help him diagnosis the illness. When a doctor does a biopsy, he removes a tiny bit of skin for examination.
    • Follow-up care and vigilance in regular health check-ups are mandatory as these cancers can re-occur.
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    Additional Resources for Cancer Education for Kids

    Education is one of the best ways to alert kids to the risks of diseases like cancer, and these fun facts for kids about lung cancer are just one way for teachers and parents to teach children about this subject. For more information about lung cancer, read “General Facts about Lung Cancer,” or “Facts about Lung Cancer.”

    Here is a recommended list of books and material on DVD's to help children understand this subject:

    Teen Smoking: Smoke Now, Lung Cancer Later, [Educational Video Network, 2004], DVD format

    A Talk with your kids about Smoking - an Anti-smoking Anti-tobacco Educational Video for Teen Smoking Prevention, [Tobacco Free Organization, 2009]

    Helping a Loved one Live Smoke Free: What Works, What Won't and Why, Barbara White Melin, [Hazelden Publisher, 2002]

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    Reference Sources

    1. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, "Lung Cancer: Fast Facts," accessed 05/07/2010

    2. Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, "Lung Cancer Facts," accessed 05/07/2010