It is natural to think of family, food and the things one is most thankful for when November rolls around. Raising awareness for lung cancer during the month of November is important to think about as well. While only 1 out of every 10 smokers will get lung cancer, it is still the number 1 cancer killer of men and women in the country, killing nearly 150,000 people per year. It is the second-most diagnosed cancer in men and women as well.
Its cause: smoke inhalation. Smoking tobacco or any kind of drug is the highest risk factor for lung cancer. Secondhand smoke causes nearly 50,000 deaths of nonsmokers every year according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Lung cancer has increasingly become a disease that is not just associated with smokers. Other risk factors include exposure to radon, asbestos, polluted air, and an existing lung disease.
According to Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) Associate Professor of Oncology and Director of Collaborative Research in the Department of Medicine, Mary Reid, PhD, between 60% and 70% of patients with lung cancer are diagnosed too late, making surgery a non-option. As efforts increase to create more early screening options, the probability of prolonging life increases dramatically.
RPCI Lung Cancer Screening
Through its High-Risk Lung Cancer Program, RPCI offers lung cancer screening for those who meet the criteria below:
- Previously treated lung, oral, throat and/or esophageal cancer
- Smoking more than a pack of cigarettes a day for at least 20 years or the equivalent
- Chronic lung disease, such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis or chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD)
- Occupational-related asbestos disease
- A family history of lung cancer in a first-degree relative
- History of substantial secondhand smoke exposure
Tests used to detect lung cancer in its early stages are Bronchoscopy and Low-Dose Chest CT Scan (LDCT).
RPCI Lung Cancer Treatment
The Thoracic Lung Cancer Center at RPCI offers specialized comprehensive care for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer. Lung cancer patients treated at the Thoracic Center receive the the latest and most efficient treatment and surgical procedures, including Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS). VATS is a minimally invasive surgery that enables the surgeon to remove tumors in openings no bigger than 1-inch in diameter using a small video camera.
The New York State Smokers’ Quitline is free and confidential. Services include telephone counseling, a starter kit of free nicotine replacement, medications for eligible smokers, access and referrals to local smoking cessation programs and more.
RPCI offers a smoking cessation program, Just Breathe, helping smokers to quit using customized plans, in addition to providing behavioral counseling, and pharmacotherapy.
Learn more about lung cancer on RPCI’s website.
RPCI’s Mary Reid, PhD