With lung cancer continuing to affect the lives of so many people, it’s important to understand the disease and what we can do to improve our chances of beating it.
1. Targeted therapies are showing great promise in treating lung cancer.
If you’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer, talk to your doctor about comprehensive genomic tumor testing. It is best to have this discussion before the initial biopsy, but it is never too late to discuss this with your doctor.
2. CT screenings can save lives.
Get screened using a low-dose CT scan- it’s the only proven effective way to screen for lung cancer. X-rays do not detect lung cancer at its earliest of stages.
3. Smoking is the #1 risk factor….
Cigarette smoking is the #1 risk factor for lung cancer. Smoking cigars, pipes and hooka also increases your risk. If you are a current or former smoker, your risk of developing lung may be up to 25 times higher than someone who never smoked. Quitting reduces your risk, even if you’ve smoked for years. In addition to causing cancer, smoking damages nearly every organ and organ system in your body. Talk to your doctor about strategies or stop-smoking aids that can help you quit.
4. …But, be aware, nonsmokers can get lung cancer too.
Roughly 10 to 15 percent of lung cancer cases occur in non-smokers. Risk factors include: exposure to radon gas, secondhand smoke, carcinogens like asbestos or diesel exhaust, air pollution and even gene mutations.
5. There are identifiable warning signs that can lead to early diagnosis.
Only 16% of people with lung cancer will be diagnosed when at the earliest stage, when the disease is most treatable. If you are experiencing a chronic cough, coughing up blood, hoarseness, wheezing, frequent shortness of breath, chest pain, bone pain or unexplained weight loss, talk to your doctor right away.
Also talk to your doctor if you have a family history of lung cancer, especially a parent or sibling.
6. There are different types of lung cancer.
- Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer, making up 80-85% of all cases. Adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, large cell carcinoma and large cell neuroendocrine tumors are considered to be part of this group.
- Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC) makes up 15-20% of all lung cancer cases. This is a fast-growing cancer that spreads rapidly to other parts of the body.
- Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of organs and can originate in the lungs or the abdomen, heart and chest. It is associated with exposure to asbestos.
- Carcinoid tumors are a type of neuroendocrine tumor that can originate in the lungs or small intestine.
7. Cutting-Edge research helps us attack lung cancer head on.
World-class scientists are working around-the-clock on projects that can help us attack lung cancer. For example, in July 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the drug Iressa® as a front-line treatment for patients with non-small cell lung cancer. The approval is extended to only those patients whose tumors contain specific mutations, which were originally identified by the scientist Dr. Daniel Haber.
Also, thanks to Dr. Alice Shaw, a new and better way to treat resistant cancers is emerging. By successfully identifying drug combinations that halted the growth of resistant cells in tumor models, her research will hopefully lead to the development of effective therapeutic strategies for patients with ALK-positive NSCLC (mutations in the ALK gene), which could be clinically tested within one to two years.