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Lung Cancer Awareness: Understanding the Dangers, Signs, and Lifesaving MeasuresNovember 17, 2023
Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related deaths and second most common cancer in both men and women in the United States. According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 230,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with the disease each year. While most cases are linked to tobacco smoking, a growing number of diagnoses are among non-smokers, especially among women.
The main risk factors for lung cancer may include:
- Smoking tobacco (currently or in the past)
- Exposure to second-hand smoke
- Exposure to radon, asbestos, arsenic, chromium, or other chemicals
- Living in an area with air pollution
- A family history of lung cancer
- Infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Radiation exposure, including radiation therapy to the breast or chest, and radon exposure. This is a minor risk factor and the benefits of radiation therapy as a cancer treatment far outweigh the risks.
Lung cancer symptoms can vary from person to person. Many people with lung cancer may have no symptoms, but when symptoms present they can include:
- Cough that does not go away and gets worse over time
- Chest pain that is constant and often made worse by deep breathing, coughing or laughing
- Arm or shoulder pain
- Coughing up blood or rust-colored phlegm
- Shortness of breath, wheezing or hoarseness
- Infections like pneumonia or bronchitis that do not go away or come back often
- Swelling of the neck and face
- Loss of appetite and/or weight loss
- Feeling weak or tired
Note: The above symptoms are not specific to lung cancer and can occur with other conditions as well. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should consult your family physician to discuss screening and diagnosis recommendations.
Screening and Diagnosis
"Early detection is crucial in treatment of lung cancer," said Dr. Alan Reinach, Lead Physician with Redeemer Pulmonary Associates.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) in adults aged 50 to 80 years, who have a 20 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.
If you meet the above criteria and are interested in screening, you should talk to your doctor about your options. You should also check with your individual insurance carrier to determine coverage.
A low-dose CT scan is a non-invasive tool that captures multiple cross-sectional images of your lungs, creating a comprehensive and detailed picture. When a screening indicates that further testing is needed, Redeemer Health provides state-of-the-art procedures to help diagnose lung cancer, such as endobronchial ultrasound bronchoscopy (EBUS), navigational bronchoscopy, and positron emission tomography (PET) scanning.
Experienced Care for Lung Cancer: Close to Home
The Redeemer Health in partnership with MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper lung cancer program maintains nationally recognized accreditation through the Care Continuum Center of Excellence by the GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer and is recognized as a Screening Center of Excellence by the Lung Cancer Alliance.
Visit redeemerhealth.org/services/health-care/cancer-care/lung-cancer to learn more.