Lung Cancer Awareness Month

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month! Did you know that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among men and women? More people die of lung cancer than colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. About 160,340 people will die from lung cancer in the United States this year. African American men and women are about 40 percent more likely to develop lung cancer than their Caucasian counterparts. Smoking is the leading risk factor for lung cancer – but not the only one. Radon, asbestos, cancer-causing agents, air pollution, radiation therapy to the lung and family history of lung cancer are also factors. Smoking contributes to 80 percent and 90 percent of lung cancer deaths in women and men, respectively. Men who smoke are 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer, and women are 13 times more likely, compared to people who have never smoked. Nonsmokers have a 20 to 30 percent greater chance of developing lung cancer if they are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work. Lung Cancer is a problem for all of us - and a problem we need to remain aware about!
 
Detection
There are usually no symptoms or warning signs, but a visit to your doctor might be necessary if you have: a cough that won’t go away, chest pain (especially during deep breaths), wheezing or shortness of breath, coughing up bloody phlegm, or fatigue.
A type of scan called spiral CT may pick up early lung cancers in some people, but it's not clear whether it finds them early enough to save lives.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that heavy smokers ages 55-80 get a CT scan every year. The same goes for those who used to smoke a lot and quit less than 15 years ago.
 
Types of Cancer
There are two types of lung cancers: small cell and non-small cell. Small-cell lung cancer is more aggressive, meaning it can spread quickly to other parts of the body early in the disease. It is strongly tied to cigarette use and is rare in nonsmokers. Non-small-cell lung cancer grows more slowly and is more common. It's responsible for almost 85% of all lung cancers.
 
Prevention
Being diagnosed with lung cancer can be a shock, but if you smoke, or used to, it’s not too late to make healthy changes. Research shows that people who quit smoking after learning they have lung cancer do better than those who keep smoking.
Don’t be afraid to politely say “no” to secondhand smoke in vehicles or closed areas.
If you know someone who is a smoker in the state of Florida, you can refer them to the “Quit your Way” phone quit hotline at 1-877-U-can-now. Through this service you can get two weeks of nicotine gum or patches to help you quit. 
 
My Story
Serving as a National Health Corps Florida member with Tobacco Free Jacksonville, surrounded by people who are passionate about lung health, has made me even more of an advocate for preventing lung cancer.
I lost my grandfather to lung cancer when he was only 60 years old, and since then I have been a strong advocate of smoking cessation and lung cancer prevention. Presenting at health fairs and educating the community, who may not have had access to this information before, makes me feel like I am making a difference.
This lung cancer awareness month, you should try to talk to people about lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death, and make a difference too!

 

 

 

 

This blog post was written by NHC FL member, Natalie Lowe.

Natalie serves at Tobacco Free Jacksonville as a Health Educator.