Source: Courier Post
An estimated 154,050 people in the U.S. will die of lung cancer in 2018. And while smoking tobacco is the biggest risk factor for developing lung cancer, other important risk factors include exposure to radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas found in the soil under our homes; asbestos, and second-hand smoke.
About 12 percent of lung cancers affect people who have never touched a cigarette, ranking it as the sixth deadliest.
So, what makes lung cancer much more deadly? One factor is that over two-thirds of lung cancers are diagnosed at a late stage, where the cancer has spread and is harder to treat. Also, symptoms (e.g., persistent cough and recurring respiratory infections) usually do not appear until the cancer has metastasized (spread to other parts of the body).
Lung cancer’s 5-year survival rate is 18 percent, compared to 89 percent for breast cancer and 98 percent for prostate cancer. But if caught through screening at its earliest stage, the rate improves to 90 percent, and the chance of being cured improves considerably.
There is a quick, non-invasive, and safe test to screen for lung cancer called a low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan. Current or former smokers who have quit within the last 15 years — aged between 55 to 74 with at least a 30 pack-year smoking history — should be screened. The American Cancer Society recommends screening by physicians who have access to a high-volume, high-quality lung cancer screening program,.
Many lung cancer patients talk about the stigma and lack of compassion they face; sometimes patients are told they should have quit or never started smoking. In reality, many cases of lung cancer occur in people who have quit smoking decades ago.
Please spread the word about lung cancer, and find out from your doctor if you or a loved one should be screened. No one deserves lung cancer.
By Dr. Duane Monteith, a cardiothoracic surgeon with Jefferson Health at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center in Washington Township. For more information, call 856-218-5324.