Lung Cancer Awareness
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An All-Too Common Disease
In the U.S., more than 200,000 cases of lung cancer are diagnosed each year. "Lung cancer is especially lethal, killing more than 142,000 Americans annually — more than colon, breast and prostate cancer combined — and in the majority of cases, within five years of diagnosis," says Greg Oliver, MD, medical director of Shore Medical Group – Pulmonary Care.
Is smoking the main cause of lung cancer?
Smoking is believed to be the cause of approximately 80 percent of all lung cancer deaths. Even low-tar or light cigarettes, cigars and pipes are strong risk factors for lung cancer. Other causes include genetics (family predisposition) and environmental factors, such as poor air quality and exposure to radon. "While smokers and former smokers have a higher risk of the disease, up to 15 percent of those diagnosed smoked very little or not at all," says Dr. Oliver.
What is the best way to treat lung cancer?
Early diagnosis offers the best chance for survival. Unfortunately, well over half of all lung cancer cases aren't diagnosed until they have advanced to an incurable stage. "There are new and targeted treatments, including immunotherapy, that are improving survival rates," says Dr. Oliver. "However, early diagnosis through low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) screening for those at high risk is making the biggest difference, decreasing the likelihood of dying from the disease by as much as 20 percent."
How do you know if you should be screened for lung cancer?
If you are between the ages of 55 and 77 with a present or past history of smoking (the equivalent of a pack a day for more than 30 years), you should talk with your primary care provider to see if a referral for LDCT screening is appropriate for you. Learn more about lung cancer screening.
Where can I find more information about lung cancer and LDCT screening?
According to UM SMG pulmonologist Andrew Vranic, MD, the American Lung Association and its LUNG FORCE initiative provide information for patients, caregivers and physicians, and work to increase awareness regarding lung cancer. "And locally, UM Shore Medical Group – Pulmonary Care providers conduct lung cancer screenings for patients who meet the eligibility criteria and who are referred by their primary care providers," Dr. Vranic says.