November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month

By Shanna Elston, DO ProMedica Physicians Pulmonary/Sleep Medicine

        Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women in the United States. In fact, according to the American Association for Cancer Research, lung cancer is responsible for more deaths in the U.S. than the next three most common causes of cancer death combined – colorectal cancer, breast cancer and pancreatic cancer.
        Lung cancer is a type of cancer that develops primarily in the lungs. It can take years to develop and occurs when a cell starts to reproduce abnormally and develops a tumor. It most commonly occurs in adults older than 65, although it can still occur in younger adults.
        This particular cancer is more prevalent in men, but over the past couple of decades, the prevalence in women has increased.
        Early signs of lung cancer may be a cough that does not go away, chest pain with deep breathing, losing weight without trying, coughing up bloody or brown mucus and shortness of breath. However, some people may not experience any symptoms until the cancer is advanced.
        Lung cancer can be difficult to diagnose, especially at an early stage due to minor symptoms or a lack of symptoms all together.
        The most effective way to prevent lung cancer is to quit smoking. Smoking will not only contribute to the risk of lung cancer, but it will also make fighting it more difficult. People who quit using tobacco will continue to see a reduced risk for lung cancer as they age. Another way to reduce the risk of lung cancer is to avoid significant secondhand smoke exposure.
        The number of deaths caused by lung cancer continues to drop due to advances in early detection and screening. New technology uses a robotic approach with computer-assisted navigation to biopsy smaller and more technically challenging lesions for earlier cancer detection. Anyone between the age of 50-85 years of age who is a current smoker or has smoked in the past 15 years and has smoked at least one pack per day in the past 20 years should be screened for lung cancer.


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