Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death and the second most common cancer among men and women in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year, more than 150,000 people die from lung cancer. In fact, more people die due to lung cancer related causes than prostate, colon, and breast cancers combined.
Here are some preventative measures you can take to fighting lung cancer:
Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 different chemicals, many of which are known carcinogens, or cancer causing substances. The most important thing you can do to prevent lung cancer is to not start smoking.
Avoid secondhand smoke. Smoke from other people’s cigarettes, pipes, or cigars is called secondhand smoke. In the United States, about 7,300 people who never smoked die from lung cancer due to secondhand smoke exposure each year. Avoid gathering areas where smoking is permitted, and encourage family members to quit smoking.
Quit smoking. If you currently smoke, the best way to lower your risk of developing lung cancer is to quit. Join thousands of others in quitting smoking on November 21, the annual observance of the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout®.
Get your home tested for radon. The second leading cause of lung cancer is radon, a naturally occurring gas that comes from rocks and dirt and can get trapped in houses and buildings. Installing a radon system can help extract radon from the air and siphon it out of the home.
Get screened for lung cancer. The prognosis for people with lung cancer is poor in part because there are often no symptoms until the disease is advanced. If you have smoked or have been around others who have smoked, it is beneficial to have a screening to help rule out lung cancer or identify warning signs in its earliest stages, when it’s most treatable.
If you’re at risk for lung cancer, a low-dose computed tomography screening (CAT Scan) could save your life. It’s the only recommended screening for lung cancer and has been proven to significantly reduce deaths from the disease.
If you have a history of smoking, smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years, and are between 55 and 77 years old, you may be eligible for screening.
Discuss your lung cancer risk with your doctor. Together you can decide whether lung cancer screening is right for you.
Dr. Steven Temkin specializes in Diagnostic Radiology and practices as part of Jefferson Radiology at Day Kimball Hospital in Putnam. Day Kimball Hospital is an accredited Designated Lung Cancer Screening Center by the American College of Radiology.