Lung Cancer Awareness: While Treatments Advance, Prevention Remains Key

| November 10, 2019

VENANGO CO., Pa. (EYT) – Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths across the nation, and while treatments have advanced, and screenings are more likely to catch the issue early, prevention remains key.

According to Tracy Myers, Manager of the Cancer Center at Clarion Hospital, lung cancer screenings have now become the standard of care, and advances in treatment have made a serious difference in the lives of patients.

“When I began my career in oncology thirty years ago, the therapies to treat lung cancer were limited and very toxic. Although some of these older drugs are still used, the newer treatments for lung cancer have advanced greatly,” Myers to

Catching cancer in the early stages can make a major difference in the effectiveness of some treatment, which makes screenings vital.

“Many people are aware that smoking, exposure to radon and asbestos are linked to lung cancer. Simply stated – eliminate the risk factors, and we can eliminate new cases of lung cancer.”

UPMC Northwest currently offers a lung cancer screening program for smokers that consists of an educational session followed by a low dose lung CT scan which, according to landmark study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, can sometimes detect cancerous tumors early, potentially reducing lung cancer mortality in smokers by up to 20 percent.

The results of the scan are interpreted by a board-certified radiologist and sent to the patient and their doctor. The patient is then advised about the need for continued screening or additional testing and treatment. A list of eligibility requirements for the screenings is available here.

While the importance of early detection and treatment cannot be understated, awareness and prevention are still a key focus of reducing the massive impact of lung cancer.

Smoking is considered one of the largest contributors to lung cancer and is linked to about 80% to 90% of lung cancer deaths in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Any Pennsylvanian 14 years of age or older who smokes or uses chewing tobacco can call 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669) to receive help dealing with their tobacco addiction. The toll-free hotline provides service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

While lung cancer has been in a slow decline over the last decade in our nation, it still accounts for about 13% of all new cancer cases in the U.S. and causes 25% of the cancer deaths in the nation, according to the National Cancer Institute. It remains the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. with a current five-year survival rate of just 18%.

(This is the second article in a series in recognition of Lung Cancer Awareness Month.)

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