November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month
(submitted by Los Alamitos Medical Center)
Los Alamitos, CA (November 2011) – The numbers 215,020, 161,840 and 4 all have one thing in common. Lung cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, there will be more than 215,000 new cases of lung cancer in the United States this year. Approximately 161,000 people will die of the disease in 2008. About 4 out of 10 people are still alive one year after being diagnosed with lung cancer. Now that you have read a few lung cancer facts, here are the top 10 things you need to know about the disease.
1. Smoking is the leading risk factor for lung cancer.
Approximately 87 percent of lung cancers are related to smoking. This risk increases depending on length of time smoking, age started, how deeply smoke is inhaled, and number of tobacco products smoked per day.
2. All forms of tobacco can cause lung cancer.
Smoking cigars or pipes is nearly as likely to cause lung cancer as cigarette smoking. Low tar or “light” cigarettes are not safer than regular cigarettes, nor does smoking them reduce the risk of lung cancer.
3. Radon can cause lung cancer.
Radon is a radioactive gas that cannot be seen, tasted or smelled. It is produced by the decay of naturally occurring uranium in soil and rocks. A kit from the hardware store can measure radon levels in the home, which should not exceed 4 pCi/L (pico Curies per Liter) .
4. There are other risk factors for lung cancer.
Secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of lung cancer and is linked to an estimated 3,000 lung cancer deaths annually. Other risk factors include exposure to asbestos, arsenic, chromium, nickel, tar and soot.
5. There are two types of lung cancer.
Between 85 and 90 percent of lung cancers are the non-small cell type. This cancer usually grows slowly and does not spread quickly to other organs. The other type, small cell carcinoma, tends to grow fast and spread to other organs.
6. Watch for the warning signs of lung cancer.
Lung cancer typically does not cause problems until it has spread. Common indicators for the disease include a persistent cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, fatigue, coughing up blood, hoarseness, recurrent respiratory infections, and appetite or weight loss.
7. Tests are available to detect lung cancer.
Lung cancer can be detected through a bronchoscopy, computed tomography or positron emission tomography scans, and thoacentesis (lung fluid sample). A biopsy is the only way to confirm a lung cancer diagnosis.
8. Lung cancer can be treated.
Treatment depends on cancer type, tumor location, stage and overall health. Options include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a combination.
9. Know the profile of a lung cancer patient.
More men than women will die of this disease this year, 90,810 compared to 71,030, respectively. The average age of a lung cancer patient is 69. African American men have the highest occurrence and lowest survival rates for lung cancer.
10. You are not alone.
For more information about lung cancer talk with your doctor and visit the Web sites for the American Cancer Society at www.cancer.gov or the American Lung Association at www.lungusa.org.
If you need a referral to a lung specialist (pulmonologist), contact the free physician referral service at Los Alamitos Medical Center 800-548-5559.