Lung Cancer Awareness Month

December 20, 2021
Christopher White, D.O.
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This past month was Lung Cancer Awareness Month.  This takes place each November.  Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in our country.  The most common cause of lung cancer is smoking.  In fact, 90% of lung cancer cases are caused by smoking.  Other causes of lung cancer include genetics and environmental exposures.  Given the high incidence of lung cancer, there is a screening tool to help detect lung cancer.  Lung cancer screening is performed by obtaining a CT scan of your lungs.  There is radiation exposure from a CT; however, this specific CT uses a lower dose of radiation to limit excessive exposure.  Lung cancer screening is for any adult between age 50 to 80 who has at least a 20-pack-year smoking history and who continues to smoke or has quit smoking within the last 15 years.  A 20-pack-year history would correlate to 1 pack/day for 20 years, a half pack/day for 40 years, or 2 packs/day for 10 years.  This CT scan occurs once annually.  As with a mammogram or colonoscopy, the purpose of this screening tool is to detect cancer early so it can be treated.  Some people are asymptomatic with lung cancer.  In other words, they feel fine with no symptoms.  Some people can have symptoms of lung cancer.  Possible symptoms include, but are not limited to, unintentional weight loss, night sweats, cough with bloody sputum.  The best way to treat and prevent lung cancer is smoking cessation.  Summit Medical Group as well as online health resources are available to help with this.  If you qualify for lung cancer screening, I recommend discussing this with your primary care provider.  If you smoke, then I highly encourage you to consider smoking cessation.  There are medications that can be used to help with smoking cessation. Again, I recommend discussing this with your primary care provider if needed.  The below link will also provide additional information related to lung cancer screening. If you have any other specific questions, we are happy to assist you.