November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Since the 1970’s, November has been a special month that focuses on smoking and lung cancer. We now celebrate the “Great American Smokeout,” a lung cancer prevention campaign sponsored by the American Cancer Association, on the third Thursday of November every year. This national campaign challenges people to stop smoking and provides information about the different tools that an individual can use to quit smoking.

Lung cancer is the third most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. In 2013, the American Cancer Society predicted over 224,000 new cases diagnosed, and over 159,000 lung cancer-associated deaths according to Dr. M. Bassel Atassi. M.D., Hematologist and Oncologist at Little Company of Mary’s Cancer Center. The most prevalent risk factor to develop lung cancer is smoking, which exists in about 85% of the cases. Aside from those people who succumb to lung cancer, another 8.6 million live with serious medical problems such as emphysema and heart disease. Smoking is a leading contributor to a variety of other types of cancer including cancers of the larynx, mouth, pharynx, esophagus, and bladder. It also has been linked to the development of cancers of the pancreas, cervix, ovary (mucinous), colon/rectum, kidney, stomach, and some types of leukemia.

Smoking also puts others at risk of developing lung cancer. A nonsmoker who lives with a smoker has a 20-30% increase in risk of developing lung cancer. Unfortunately, there are no early symptoms for lung cancer and symptoms, when present, are vague at best – cough, fatigue, weight loss. Dr. Atassi strongly recommends that smokers follow the new lung cancer screening guidelines: Low-dose Computed Tomography (CT Scan) in adults aged 55 to 80 years who have long history of smoking (examples: one pack daily for over 30 years, or two packs daily for over 15 years) or heavy smokers who quit within the past 15 years. Those high risk individuals will benefit from early detection and intervention. Discuss your risk assessment and eligibility for lung cancer screening with your doctor.

Smoking cessation is the most important intervention to prevent lung cancer. So I propose a challenge to the smokers in our community: Let’s quit together! Research shows that the people who are most successful in quitting are the ones who receive support. Why not set a quit date? Make your quitting plan today so you can breathe easier tomorrow. The Little Company of Mary Health Education Center has a very successful Hypnosis program for smoking cessation.

The next program will be held in Little Company of Mary’s Health Education Center on Wednesday, November 19th at 7:00 p.m. A fee of $70 includes a take-home CD to reinforce your hypnosis as needed. For more information and to register for this program, call 708.423.5774.

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