November is recognized as Lung Cancer Awareness Month. The importance of this designation is to bring awareness to the fact that Lung Cancer is responsible for more than 25 percent of all cancer deaths. Lung cancer takes more lives each year than colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.
Lung cancer is a form of cancer that starts in the lungs. In the early stages there may not be any signs or symptoms. A history of smoking definitely contributes to a higher risk of being diagnosed with the disease, though non-smokers also can develop lung cancer.
Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer include:
• A cough that doesn’t get better
• Coughing up blood
• Shortness of breath
• Chest pain
• Weight loss that isn’t intentional
It is now recommended that certain patients who are over 55 years of age and have smoked for many years consider screening for lung cancer by doing a a low dose CAT scan of the lungs. This may detect cancers at an early stage where they may be more curable. It is important to have a conversation with your physician prior to performing a screening CT scan so that the patient understands the pros and cons of screening. For example, many scans will show small nodules (small spots in the lungs) that are not cancerous but will require follow-up and patient’s need to understand this and be prepared for this possibility.
There are several types of lung cancer based on their appearance under the microscope. These include small cell cancer and non-small cell cancer, which is a group of cancers that includes squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.
Testing that can help make the diagnosis of cancer includes chest x-rays, CT scans, PET scans, examination of the sputum, bronchoscopy ( a test in which a fiber optic scope is passed into the lungs), and lung biopsies (which can be done by a needle although sometimes a surgical procedure is required). Not all tests will be required for every patient.
Once the diagnosis is established it is important to determine what stage the cancer is. Factors that go into staging cancer include the size of the tumor itself location and whether it has spread to the lymph nodes in the chest or to other parts of the body such as the brain, liver, bone or adrenal glands.
To schedule an appointment with a pulmonologist at Jamaica Hospital, please call 718-206-6742.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.