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Posted November 29, 2021 by Sandy Kohut, RRT
You’re not a smoker, so you can’t be at risk for lung cancer, right? Not so fast.
While smokers, especially cigarette smokers, make up the leading cause of lung cancer deaths, nonsmokers do get diagnosed with this deadly disease.
Lung cancer is the second most common diagnosed cancer in both men and women, and the leading cause of cancer deaths, making up almost 25 percent in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).
However, despite how common it is, many people don’t know much about lung cancer. Learning more about this disease will help you and your loved ones understand how to reduce your risks, increase early detection, and navigate treatment options if diagnosed with lung cancer.
Lung cancer starts in the lungs, usually in the cells that line your air passages. There are two main types of lung cancer that will affect your symptoms and treatment, including:
Summa Health knows the importance of prevention, rapid diagnosis, and prompt treatment of lung cancer. Summa Health has a dedicated team of professionals specially trained in advanced diagnostic testing procedures. Our multidisciplinary team follows evidence based guidelines to ensure patients get the best possible care. Each year, the number of deaths from lung cancer continues to drop due to people quitting smoking and advances in early detection and treatment options.
Risk factors for lung cancer
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate 90 percent of lung cancers are caused by cigarette smoke. There are other risk factors, however, that can increase your chance of getting lung cancer, including:
Symptoms of lung cancer
Lung cancer usually does not cause symptoms when it first develops, but symptoms often show after the tumor begins growing. Typical symptoms of lung cancer include:
Diagnosing lung cancer
When lung cancer is suspected, your healthcare provider will most likely perform a physical exam and run a CT scan of your lungs. If a lung nodule or mass is detected, additional testing that may include more advanced imaging scans, pulmonary function testing and possibly biopsies to obtain a tissue sample.
If you are diagnosed with lung cancer, you will undergo a series of tests to determine the stage of your cancer. This will guide the treatment options available to you.
Lung cancer treatment
A team of specialists will determine your treatment for lung cancer based on the type and stage you have. A combination of treatments, including surgery to remove the tumor, chemotherapy or radiation therapy to shrink or kill the cancer, and targeted therapies to block the growth of cancer or immunotherapies to help your immune system fight the disease.
For example, early stages of non-small cell lung cancer can be treated with surgery to remove the tumors or radiation therapy, while later stages are treated with chemotherapy or targeted/immunotherapy to block the growth and spread of cancer cells.
For small cell lung cancer that spreads rapidly and likely diagnosed at a later stage, a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and targeted therapies may be used to treat the disease.
While many believe lung cancer is always fatal, that’s not the case. Early detection and treatment can decrease lung cancer mortality by up to 20 percent among high-risk patients — and some even beat it completely, according to ACS.
If you’re at high risk for lung cancer, screening is vital to catching it early. To screen for lung cancer, your doctor will perform a low-dose CT scan to take images of your lungs. Starting at age 50, individuals should start talking to their physician about screening if they:
Screening should take place annually until age 80.
You can also take steps to be proactive with your health by changing the risk factors that you can control. The best way to reduce your risk of lung cancer is to not smoke and avoid breathing in second-hand smoke. No matter your age or how long you’ve smoked, quitting can lower your risk of lung cancer and help you live longer.
If you suspect you’re at high risk, talk to your healthcare provider about preventative screenings and lifestyle changes. It just might save your life.
Contact Summa Health today to schedule your CT lung screening at 330.319.9482