November Is Lung Cancer Awareness Month – OHC
• About 221,200 new cases of lung cancer (115,610 in men and 105,590 in women)
• An estimated 158,040 deaths from lung cancer (86,380 in men and 71,660 among women)
What Can You Do?
Here’s how you can reduce your risk:
- Don’t smoke. If you’ve never smoked, don’t start. Talk to your children about not smoking so that they can understand how to avoid this major risk factor for lung cancer.
- Stop smoking. Stop smoking now. Quitting reduces your risk of lung cancer, even if you’ve smoked for years. Talk to your doctor about strategies and stop-smoking aids that can help you quit. Options include nicotine replacement products, medications and support groups.
- Avoid secondhand smoke. If you live or work with a smoker, urge him or her to quit. At the very least, ask him or her to smoke outside.
- Test your home for radon. Have the radon levels in your home checked, especially if you live in an area where radon is known to be a problem. High radon levels can be remedied to make your home safer. For information on radon testing, contact your local department of public health or a local chapter of the American Lung Association.
- Avoid carcinogens at work. Take precautions to protect yourself from exposure to toxic chemicals at work. Follow your employer’s precautions. For instance, if you’re given a face mask for protection, always wear it. Ask your doctor what more you can do to protect yourself at work. Your risk of lung damage from workplace carcinogens increases if you smoke.
- Eat a diet full of fruits and vegetables. Food sources of vitamins and nutrients are best. Avoid taking large doses of vitamins in pill form, as they may be harmful. For instance, researchers hoping to reduce the risk of lung cancer in heavy smokers gave them beta carotene supplements. Results showed the supplements actually increased the risk of cancer in smokers.
- Exercise most days of the week. If you don’t exercise regularly, start out slowly.
Most lung cancers do not cause any symptoms until they have spread too far to be cured, but symptoms do occur in some people with early lung cancer. If you go to your doctor when you first notice symptoms, your cancer might be diagnosed at an earlier stage, when treatment is more likely to be effective.
The most common symptoms of lung cancer are:
- A cough that does not go away or gets worse
- Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing or laughing
- Weight loss and loss of appetite
- Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum (spit or phlegm)
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling tired or weak
- Infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia that don’t go away or keep coming back
- New onset of wheezing
Lung Cancer Screening For High Risk Patients
Screening is the use of tests or exams to detect a disease in people without symptoms of that disease. Doctors have looked for many years for a test to find lung cancer early and help people live longer, but only in recent years has a study shown that a lung cancer screening test can help lower the risk of dying from this disease.
The American Cancer Society recommends doctors discuss screening with people who are at high risk for developing the disease and help them make an informed decision about whether to get screened. If people do decide to get screened, they should get screened every year through age 74, as long as they are still healthy.
To be in the high risk category, patients must be aged 55 to 74 years, have a smoking history equivalent to a pack a day for 30 years, and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years. To be a good candidate for screening, patients need to be in fairly good health. For example, they need to be able to have surgery and other treatments to try to cure lung cancer if it is found.
Screening should only be done at facilities that have the right type of CT scan and that have a great deal of experience in low-dose CT-based lung cancer screening, which can be a key component in the early detection process. The facility should also have a team of specialists who can provide the appropriate care and follow-up of patients with abnormal results on the scans. ￼