Lung Cancer Prevention And Screenings

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According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer accounts for about 20% of cancer deaths in the U.S., making it the leading cause of cancer deaths. The number of lung cancer deaths has been decreasing for the last four decades. Previously, a diagnosis of lung cancer meant a low survival rate. That’s because by the time symptoms appeared, the cancer already had reached an advanced stage. Now, thanks to new lung cancer screening options, there’s hope for identifying the disease early, when it’s most treatable. We also know more about lung cancer prevention, what causes lung cancer, and more.         

Risk Factors for Lung Cancer 

Smoking is the No. 1 risk factor for lung cancer. It is responsible for 80% to 90% of lung cancer deaths in the United States. Studies have proven that the longer you smoke and the more cigarettes per day you smoke, the higher the likelihood you will develop some form of lung cancer.

Besides smoking, secondhand smoke increases your cancer risk. Secondhand smoke means you are often around tobacco smoke. 

Besides smoking and secondhand smoke, other causes of lung cancer include:

  • Radiation therapy: If you have already had radiation to the chest for another type of cancer, it can increase your risk of developing lung cancer.
  • Exposure to radon gas: Radon is a naturally occurring gas. It comes from the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. The gas becomes part of the air you breathe. Unsafe levels of radon can accumulate in any building, including homes. 
  • Exposure to asbestos and other carcinogens: Exposure to asbestos and other substances known to cause cancer — such as arsenic, chromium and nickel — can increase your risk of developing lung cancer, especially if you’re a smoker.
  • Family history of lung cancer: If you have a parent, sibling or child with lung cancer, you may have an increased risk of the disease.

A Note on Vaping and Cancer Risk

While electronic cigarettes have significantly fewer harmful chemicals than regular cigarettes, they are not harmless. They still contain nicotine, the addictive substance in cigarettes, as well as potentially harmful cancer-causing substances. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, because vaping products have not been around very long, studies have been limited. The long-term effects of vaping are still not known.

Lung Cancer Prevention

Researchers agree that the best way to prevent lung cancer is to quit smoking or prevent exposure to secondhand smoke or other cancer-causing substances. If you currently smoke or have a history of smoking, it’s important to get regular checkups with a physician and get screened for lung cancer. If you are at a higher risk for lung cancer, you should also get an annual lung cancer screening.

Quitting smoking can be challenging. Norton Prevention & Wellness offers a comprehensive tobacco cessation program program to help you stop using tobacco. Classes are offered at a variety of times and locations to make quitting tobacco easier and convenient. Stopping smoking reduces your risk of several kinds of cancer, including cancers of the larynx, mouth and pancreas. Your risk of lung cancer drops by half after you have stopped smoking for 10 to 15 years.

Lung Cancer Screening Guidelines

Lung cancer screening can’t prevent lung cancer, but it can detect cancer before symptoms appear. Often lung cancer patients don’t have symptoms until the cancer has advanced or even spread (metastasized). Earlier detection means improved health outcomes.

Norton Cancer Institute uses high-speed, low-dose CT scanning, which can detect even the tiniest lung nodule. The screening scan — which is painless and noninvasive and takes just a few minutes — is offered to individuals at high risk for developing lung cancer. Lung cancer screening is recommended for those who are at high risk due to cigarette smoking. You may be a candidate if you meet all the following criteria:

  • Ages 50 to 80
  • Are a current smoker or quit within the past 15 years
  • Smoking history of 20 pack-years (Multiply typical packs per day by number of years. For example, two packs per day for 10 years is 20 pack-years.)

Studies have shown that early diagnosis with tools like CT scans can reduce the risk of death from lung cancer by up to 20%.

Norton Cancer Institute is committed to helping patients throughout Kentucky and Southern Indiana take charge of their health. We offer a full range of advanced lung cancer treatment options and cancer support services through every phase of care to empower you on the road to recovery.

Lung Cancer Care for the Whole Person

Our Norton Cancer Institute Comprehensive Lung Center uses a multidisciplinary team approach. Our center allows you to see your oncologist, surgeon, radiation oncologist, counselor, nutritionist and other members of your care team all in one visit. No other facility in town offers the same seamless care. We have four dedicated patient navigators who manage day-to-day details and patient appointments. Specialists include pulmonologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, thoracic surgeons and support services (dieticians, etc.). All our oncologists subspecialize in lung cancer. Our teams attend tumor boards to determine the best plan of care for your specific case. Patients often can get into the clinic within days of a referral to the Comprehensive Lung Center.

We offer state-of-the-art diagnostic tools and treatment techniques, including ultrasound, MRI and biopsies. Biopsies are done with minimally invasive robotic-assisted bronchoscopy. Targeted molecular therapies are used for certain subtypes of lung cancer. Other treatments include immunotherapy and biologic therapies designed specifically to target the genetic makeup of your cancer.

In addition to our current leading-edge treatments, we offer our patients the opportunity to participate in innovative National Cancer Institute- and industry-sponsored clinical research studies.

Five Norton Cancer Institute Resource Centers in Louisville and Southern Indiana offer a variety of support services that address the emotional, physical and spiritual needs of patients and their families. Specially trained oncology nurses also are on hand to provide one-on-one counseling. Patient resources offerings range from wigs to massage/music/art therapy, support groups and the Norton Cancer Institute Sexual Health Program. We take care of not just the body, but the person within.

Norton Cancer Institute is part of the first health system in Kentucky to become a GO2 for Lung Cancer Center of Excellence in both care continuum and screenings. This designation reflects the use of:

  • A patient-centric, collaborative care model that means patients can see an oncologist, surgeon, radiation oncologist, counselor, nutritionist and other members of their care team all in one visit
  • The most effective diagnostic and therapeutic technologies and techniques available

Medicare, Medicaid and most major insurance plans are accepted.

Communicate with your care provider, renew prescriptions, make appointments and get alerted if an earlier appointment becomes available through your free Norton MyChart account.

Norton Cancer Institute has multiple outpatient locations and infusion centers in Louisville, in surrounding counties in Kentucky and in Southern Indiana. We have multiple radiation centers located just off major interstates, with free self-service parking and valet parking.

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