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Lung cancer: what you should know

Lung cancer: what you should know

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 158,080 deaths were expected to have occurred in 2016 from lung cancer. Wisconsin had an estimated 3,060 deaths from lung cancer.

Prevention: There is no definite way to prevent lung cancer. Not smoking or quitting now and avoiding secondhand smoke can decrease 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-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%.  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 call the James Beck Cancer Center in Rhinelander at 715-361-2140.

Early detection is one of the most important factors to surviving cancer. Find out which screenings are right for you.

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