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lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths in the united states.

We are dedicated to the maintenance of good health and prevention of disease as well as its treatment. Because of the severity of lung cancer, it’s more important than ever to understand the risks, and be proactive about catching the disease early.

Lung Cancer is the leading cause of cancer related deaths in the United States. Lung Cancer Screening is crucial in assisting the early detection of Lung Cancer. The earlier lung cancer is detected, the greater chance we’ll have to treat and cure this disease.

Patients of ages 55-80 who have smoked over 30 pack years (equivalent to 1 pack daily for 30 years) and who have smoked within the last 15 years are candidates for screening by Low Dose High Resolution Chest CT Scanning.

If you meet the criteria above and are at risk, we are here to discuss your screening options. Together we can detect this disease while it’s in its early stages.

To help better educate yourself please take the time to read and review the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force Published Recommendations about Lung Cancer and your screening options. After you have reviewed this or if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call Allergy and Pulmonary. We’re here to help you make the best possible decisions for you, your health, and the loved ones that depend on you.

**Insurance coverage of screening will vary by plan. We will work with your insurance carrier as necessary.  

AMERICAN THORACIC SOCIETY – SMOKING AND CANCER

Our DNA controls how the cells in our body grow and function. When our DNA gets damaged, it can cause cells to grow uncontrollably and create cancerous tumors. Damage to the DNA can be caused by many things such as poisons and radiation.

How does tobacco cause cancer?

Many of the poisons found in tobacco can damage your DNA and lead to cancer. Poisons in tobacco not only damage the DNA, but they weaken the cells that fight the tumor. The bottom line is that tobacco causes cancer and then prevents your body from fighting it.

What type of cancer can be caused by tobacco use?

Most lung cancers are caused by smoking. Tobacco use can also cause cancer in many other areas of your body. Cancers of the throat, mouth, nose, larynx (voice box), esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney, uterus, bladder, cervix, blood, and bone marrow are all linked to tobacco use.

What are signs and symptoms of cancer?

Cancer often grows for a long time without causing any signs or symptoms. Some signs and symptoms are commonly seen with cancer but are also seen with many other health problems. This is why it is important for you to have regular health checkups and report any things that seem abnormal to you. You should consider getting evaluated if you have the following:

  • Cough that does not go away or if you cough up blood
  • New or worsening shortness of breath
  • Unexplained wight loss
  • Fever
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Pain

How can I protect myself from getting cancer?

The best way to lower your risk of developing cancer is to avoid the things that can cause cancer. The following are some of the things you can do to prevent cancer:

  • Stay away from tobacco and tobacco smoke
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Exercise
  • Get regular health checkups
  • Talk to your health care provider about whether you should get screened for lung cancer

Will quitting smoking make my cancer go away?

Unfortunately, once you have cancer, quitting smoking will not make the cancer go away, but it can make your life better. Studies show that people with lung cancer who stop smoking, have a better quality of life than those who do not quit smoking. Treatment for lung cancer (such as surgery or chemotherapy), seem to work better for people who do not smoke. Those who quit often spend more time at home than in the hospital and are able to do the things they want to do. So even if you have cancer, quitting can make a big difference in your life.

Action Steps:

  • Stop smoking or using tobacco products (your health care provider can help you with this step).
  • Avoid second and third hand smoke.
  • Do not let your children get exposed to smoke.

Authors: Tobacco Control Committee of the American Thoracic Society, Patricia Folan RN, MS, Daniel Jacobsen RN, MS, FNP-BC.
Reviewers: Suzanne C Lareau RN, MS, Christopher Slatore MD

Resources:

AMERICAN THORACIC SOCIETY – LUNG CANCER PREVENTION

The #1 cause of lung cancer is exposure to tobacco smoke. Your chances increase with the amount you smoke and the number of years you have smoked. The more you smoke or are exposed to smoke from others (second-hand smoke), the greater your chances of developing lung cancer. People who have never smoked may develop lung cancer, but their chance is much less than people who smoke or who used to smoke.

What can I do to decrease my risk of developing lung cancer?

The best way to lower your risk is to avoid tobacco smoke. It is never too late to stop smoking, but the sooner you stop, the better. Even if you can’t quit completely, cutting back on the number of cigarettes you smoke can help, but cutting down is not as good as quitting completely.

There are many ways to stop smoking including counseling, nicotine replacement and medications. It takes most people several tries before they quit for good. So don’t be discouraged. If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying!

Are there other ways to decrease my risk of getting lung cancer?

There are many things that may reduce your risk, but none have been proven.

These include:

  • Eating plenty of fruit.
  • Regular exercise.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (like ibuprofen).
  • Inhaled corticosteroids (used for emphysema and asthma).
  • Statin medications (used for high cholesterol).

Eating more fruit and exercising are not likely to harm you, but speak with your healthcare provider before making major changes in your diet and activity. Talk to your healthcare provider before taking any new medications, including regular use of non-prescription medications.

Are there things that increase my chances of getting lung cancer?

There are several things that we know increase your risk of getting lung cancer. There are other things that may increase your risk but we don’t have enough information to say for sure. These things increase your risk for lung cancer and should be avoided if possible:

  • Tobacco smoke.
  • Asbestos, a mineral formerly used in building materials that is still in some environments.
  • Radon, a radioactive gas that can be found in the environment.
  • High doses of supplemental beta-carotene (a pigment found in plants and fruits) above the Recommended Daily Allowance. Risk with high levels is mainly seen in former and current smokers.

Things that may increase your risk of getting lung cancer include:

  • Supplements with high doses of vitamin E (above the Recommended Daily Allowance)
  • Hormone replacement therapy (estrogen plus progestin)
  • Heavy alcohol use

Talk to your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits before starting or stopping any medication or vitamin.

What about screening for lung cancer?

The most effective way to reduce the chance of getting lung cancer is to quit smoking. There is also considerable interest in diagnosing lung cancer at an early stage, before it causes symptoms and when it is most treatable. This is called screening. Until recently, no study had proved the effectiveness of screening so it was not recommended.

However, a new study found that using CT (“cat”) scans, computerized imaging of the chest or lungs, for screening reduced the number of people who died from lung cancer. As a result, several organizations, including the American Thoracic Society and the United States Preventive Services Task Force now recommend that healthcare providers consider ordering a chest CT for lung cancer screening for adults with a history of cigarette smoking. Talk to your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of screening for you.

Summary

Lung cancer is a common form of cancer. There are things you can do to lower your risk of lung cancer.

  • Stop smoking tobacco.
  • Ask your health care provider for help in quitting, including use of medicines to help with nicotine dependence.
  • Discuss with your healthcare provider, what you are taking or doing to decrease your risk for lung cancer.