Living Well: Lung cancer is number one killer
Reducing risk factors, early detection are key
By Tammery Perry, NP
Ministry Medical Group James Beck Cancer Center
According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer accounts for more deaths than any other cancer in both men and women in the United States. An estimated 158,040 deaths were expected to have occurred in 2015 from lung cancer; 3,050 in Wisconsin.
Prevention: There is no definite way to prevent lung cancer. Not smoking or quitting now and avoiding secondhand smoke can decrease the risk. Avoid other risk factors and employ healthy behaviors such as a balanced diet, exercise, stress management and adequate sleep.
Risk factors: Smoking is the top risk factor for lung cancer. Exposure to radon gas is estimated to be the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the US. Other risk factors include exposure to secondhand smoke, asbestos (particularly among smokers), certain metals (arsenic, cadmium, chromium), radiation, air pollution, and diesel exhaust. Occupational exposures that increase risk include rubber manufacturing, paving, roofing, painting, and chimney sweeping. Some, who develop the disease at a young age, may have a genetic susceptibility.
Signs and symptoms: Symptoms do not usually occur until the cancer is advanced, and may include voice changes persistent cough, coughing up blood, chest pain, worsening shortness of breath, and recurrent pneumonia or bronchitis.
Early detection: In 2013, the American Cancer Society and the US Preventive Services Task Force issued guidelines for the early detection of lung cancer based on a systematic review of research. Those current or former smokers who are 55 to 74 years of age, in good health, and with at least a 30 pack per year history of smoking should consult their health care provider to discuss whether a low dose spiral CT should be completed for screening.
Treatment: Depending on type and stage of cancer, surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy are indicated.
Survival: Despite these treatment options, the American Cancer Society estimates the 5 year relative survival rate to be 17 percent. The American Lung Association estimates that more than half of people with lung cancer die within one year of being diagnosed.
Lung cancer is killing more people than any other cancer in the United States. It is time to change this statistic by not smoking or quitting and reducing other risk factors, reporting signs and symptoms to a clinician. Early detection may lead to better outcomes. Research is ongoing for successful treatments.
For more information on Lung screenings, risk factors or cancer treatment options, please visit ministryhealth.org or call the James Beck Cancer Center in Rhinelander at 715.361.2140.