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Smoke-out Lung Cancer

This month is Lung Cancer Awareness month and there is much talk about lung cancer and quitting smoking.  Smoking is dangerous. It not only affects your lungs and causes the lung diseases associated with it like bronchitis, emphysema and COPD – smoking also negatively affects many other parts of your body and is known to be a contributing factor in heart disease and stroke. There is nothing good about smoking.

“There are at least 70 known carcinogens in cigarette smoke,” says Paul Kaywin, M.D., medical oncologist affiliated with Baptist Health, “80-90% of lung cancers are related to cigarette smoke.  After smoking, the second highest risk factor is radon exposure (radiation), a result of natural minerals in the ground”.

The problem with lung cancer is that most patients have no pain or symptoms so by the time a patient is diagnosed their cancers may be in an advanced stage. The recent U.S. Preventive Service Task Force (USPSTF) recommendation can change all that.

USPSTF recommended lung cancer screenings for people ages 55-79 who smoked at least 30 pack years (for example, one pack a day for 30 years; two packs a day for 15 years). “The ability to screen once-a-year with a low-dose contrast CT scan will result in a 20% reduction in lung cancer mortality and the best outcomes are for early stage cancer with no evidence of metastasis,” says Dr. Kaywin.

If you are currently a smoker or are a former smoker, this is good news because the chances of survival are greater if your lung cancer is caught early.

“Considering all of the technology and treatments currently available to patients, early detection of lung cancer has the most positive effect on the outcome for lung cancer,” says Mark Dylewski, M.D., medical director of general thoracic and robotic surgery at Baptist Health Florida.  “Surgery remains the mainstay treatment for early stage lung cancer and robotic surgery uses the latest robotic technology for providing minimally invasive approaches to the surgical intervention of lung cancer”.

Additional types of therapies are also available to patients. The type of therapy that is used is dependent on the stage of the disease.  The treatment advances that have been made in lung cancer treatment are saving lives. Advances have been made in radiation therapy, with the TrueBeam system [1] and in medicine with personalized targeted therapies based on lung cancer metastasis and oral non-chemotherapies.

Early detection is the key to survival but lung cancer is still a killer. In 2013, 228,190 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed (118,080 men and 111,110 women) and 160,000 people will die, says the American Cancer Society [2].

More people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined.

Dr. Dylewski says: “If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke or did smoke, get screened.”

Baptist offers CT lung cancer screening at our diagnostic centers at a low cost; however, you must have a prescription from your physician. If you currently smoke or if you quit smoking within the past 15 years, get a screening. You could save your life and the lives of your family.

For more information, call 786-573-6000 in Miami-Dade or 954-837-1000 in Broward, or visit BaptistHealth.net [3].