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Lung Cancer Awareness

11/10/22

While more common in men, the gap between men and women who are diagnosed with lung cancer is closing. In fact, it is the number one cancer killer in women—more than breast, ovarian and cervical cancer combined. It is estimated that about 236,740 new cases of lung cancer would be diagnosed this year. By 2035, it is estimated that more women will die from lung cancer than men. Three times as many men die of lung cancer than prostate cancer.

Who is most at risk for developing lung cancer?

Older adults are at the highest risk, as most cases occur over the age of 65. Black men are more at risk for developing lung cancer.  About 80-90% of lung cancers are caused by smoking, and individuals who smoke heavily are at a greater risk of developing lung cancer. Nonetheless, lung cancer in never-smokers is the seventh leading cause of cancer-related death in America. Environmental exposures can increase the risk but in many situations the reason for developing a lung cancer remains unknown.

What are some ways to prevent lung cancer?

If you smoke, quitting is the best way to prevent lung cancer. Patients who are ready to quit should talk to their doctors about resources to help. Even though your risk for lung cancer decreases after you quit smoking, if you have a smoking history, you remain at high risk for lung cancer. If you have quit smoking within the past 15 years, you may be eligible for lung cancer screening, depending on how much you have smoked in the past. Lung cancer screening saves lives, as it increases the probability that a lung cancer is diagnosed at a stage when it is most easily treated.

What are the symptoms of lung cancer?

The most common symptoms include:

  • Persistent cough
  • Coughing up blood or phlegm
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss

For many, symptoms do not appear until cancer has spread and is in a later stage. In these cases, the cancer is found either by screening or incidentally during an examination for a health issue unrelated to cancer.

What are the types of screenings for lung cancer?

There is one approved test for lung cancer screening: the low-dose computed tomography (CT) scan, which provides a detailed image of the lungs and uses only about one-third the radiation dose of a full-dose CT scan. It takes less than five minutes and does not require needles or injections.

What are the treatment options for lung cancer?

Depending on the stage of the lung cancer, it’s location in the body and the patient’s health status, the course of treatment may differ. Surgery is an option as well as radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Other targeted therapies may be an option for certain patients while immunotherapy can also be utilized to prolong life.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of lung cancer, or you are currently a smoker, contact your primary healthcare provider to determine if you are a candidate for a diagnostic test. If you do not have a primary healthcare provider, contact the CCMH Medical Clinic at 712-265-2700 to arrange a consultation.