According to the Lung Cancer Alliance, lung cancer is the deadliest cancer claiming more lives than colon, breast and prostate cancer combined. The statistics are staggering and surprising – lung cancer is the second leading cause of all deaths in the U.S. claiming more than 158,000 lives in 2009 and those affected cross every ethnic group. In fact, nearly 18 percent of new lung cancer cases have never smoked. Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) would like to help raise awareness about lung cancer.
“There is a stigma around lung cancer. Many people believe that those who have the disease deserve it,” explained Madappa Kundranda, MD, PhD medical oncologist at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America Western Regional Medical Center. “The truth is that lung cancer is a deadly disease that does not discriminate. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 225,000 new cases will be diagnosed in 2012.”
What do you need to know?
According to Dr. Kundranda there are three major warning signs that warrant a visit to your physician.
- A persistent cough that won’t go away even with repeated courses of antibiotics
- Coughing up blood
- Unintentional weight loss
If you or someone you love experience any or all of the above warning signs, make an appointment to see your physician as soon as possible. When it comes to lung cancer it is extremely important to pay close attention to what your body is telling you.
Unfortunately, lung cancer often has no distinct symptoms. Dr. Kundranda explains that this vagueness in symptoms can be mistaken for a lung infection or pneumonia; especially in a non-smoker. In addition, lung cancer symptoms can also vary depending on the type of lung cancer and location and size of the tumor.
Dr. Kundranda encourages you to visit your primary care physician on a regular basis; this will assist in a prompt and accurate diagnosis of lung cancer or any other serious illnesses.
Are you at risk for lung cancer?
Smoking is the biggest risk factor, causing 80 to 85 percent of lung cancer in the U.S. However there are other risk factors to consider including exposure to second-hand smoke, Radon gas and Asbestos. Environmental exposure to air pollution or industrial chemicals can cause increased risk for lung cancer. If you served in the military and were exposed to Agent Orange, beryllium, depleted uranium or battlefield combustibles you are also at risk.
Understanding your risk is important because, like other cancers, lung cancer is most curable when it is found early and when it is possible to remove the cancer through surgery.
If you are at risk, what next?
In addition to regular visits to your primary care physician, Dr. Kundranda encourages lung cancer screening. The National Lung Cancer Screening Trial (NLST) supports lung cancer screening with low-dose CT scans in heavy smokers. The trial showed that using low dose CT scans to screen those at high risk for lung cancer found it earlier than chest x-rays. The study also proved that when lung cancer is found early, lives are saved.
“If you or someone or someone in your life is diagnosed with lung cancer, it is important to know about all the available treatment options,” explained Dr. Kundranda. “At CTCA, we develop personal integrated treatment plans for each of the patients we serve. This is what truly sets us apart from the rest. In addition to providing patients with access to the latest state-of-the-art technologies and treatment options, we also offer supportive care that gives patients access to naturopathic consultation, nutrition support, acupuncture, massage, physical therapy, occupational therapy and more.”
About Cancer Treatment Centers of America
Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Inc. (CTCA) is a national network of hospitals focusing on complex and advanced stage cancer. CTCA offers a comprehensive, fully integrated approach to cancer treatment and serves patients from all 50 states at facilities located in Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Tulsa. Known for delivering the Mother Standard® of care and Patient Empowerment Medicine®, CTCA provides patients with information about cancer and their treatment options so they can control their treatment decisions. For more information about CTCA, go to www.cancercenter.com.