What are the most important things I need to know about lung cancer?
Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women. Louisiana is above the national average when it comes to lung cancer cases, but there is some good news, too. The number of cases continues to decrease with advancements in early detection and treatment, while a focus on public health is also driving people to quit smoking.
At Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center, we understand screening is important, because early detection can dramatically increase survival rate which means more tomorrows for you or your loved ones.
Am I at risk for developing lung cancer?
Smoking tobacco and exposure to secondhand smoke are the leading risks for lung cancer. You can not only reduce your cancer risk when you stop smoking, but within one year of quitting you can also decrease your risk of heart disease by 50%.
Other risk factors for lung cancer that may be more easily avoided include those who are exposed to large amounts of radon or asbestos through work or home. While government regulations over the past several decades have reduced the use of asbestos in commercial and industrial products, it may still be present in older homes.
Unavoidable factors include personal or family history of cancer, COPD or Pulmonary Fibrosis. Read more about risk factors and lung cancer statistics at https://marybird.org/services/cancer-by-type/lung.
Should I be screened for lung cancer and what the symptoms?
If found early, lung cancer has a higher chance of successful treatment. Since it’s possible to be asymptomatic, early detection for those who are at high risk is encouraged. Lung cancer symptoms do not typically show until the cancer has already reached an advanced stage, so preventive screening is key.
The most common symptoms of lung cancer often mimic those of other respiratory illnesses, such as a persistent cough or wheezing, and can be mistaken for infections or long-term effects of smoking. The American Cancer Society recommends screenings for anyone ages 55-74 with a smoking history of 30 pack years or more and less than 15 years cessation. It is also recommended that those 50 or older with a smoking history of 20 pack years and at least one additional risk factor other than secondhand smoke be screened.
Find out if you are a candidate for a painless, convenient lung cancer screening at https://marybird.org/services/cancer-by-type/lung/.
Does a tobacco cessation program work?
According to Community Health Rankings, Louisiana’s tobacco use is 23%, much higher than the national average of 15.1%. You may be ready to kick the habit, and it is absolutely possible to remain tobacco-free.
Quitting can be a challenge, but you don’t have to do it alone. The Geaux Free tobacco treatment program offered at no cost by Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center helps individuals prepare to quit, manage withdrawal symptoms and identify triggers that create the urge to smoke.
Find more information on tobacco cessation or schedule an appointment with a certified tobacco treatment specialist. Learn more at https://marybird.org/services/get-screened/#quit.