November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month
Lung cancer remains the second most common cancer in women (behind breast cancer) and the second most common in men (behind prostate cancer). In 2021, there will be over 225,000 individuals diagnosed with lung cancer in the United States. (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention)
A misconception people have is that lung cancer only affects those that smoke. Smoking is a leading cause of lung cancer. The risk is also increased by exposure to secondhand smoke, environmental exposures, such as radon, workplace toxins (e.g., asbestos, arsenic), and air pollution.
Unfortunately, the majority of lung cancers do not cause any symptoms until they have spread. Yet, if you have any of the following issues, it is essential to see your healthcare provider immediately so the cause can be determined and treated if needed.
- A cough that does not go away or gets worse
- Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum (spit or phlegm)
- Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling tired or weak
- Infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia that don’t go away or keep coming back
- New onset of wheezing
Visiting your healthcare provider when you first notice symptoms, cancer may be diagnosed earlier when treatment is more likely to be effective.
The only recommended screening test for lung cancer is a low-dose CT scan. This screening is recommended only for adults who have no symptoms but are at a high risk. These individuals have the following:
- Have a history of heavy smoking, and
- Smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years, and
- Are between 55 and 80 years old.
If you are interested in quitting smoking or vaping, talk with your healthcare provider or call the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (www.okhelpline.com).
Amber Hill, APRN-CNP
Ryan Family Care