While the rate of new cases of lung cancer has fallen over the last 10 years, it’s still one of the top three most diagnosed cancers in the United States.
CentraState thoracic surgeon Jean-Phillipe Bocage, MD, debunks common myths about the condition.
1. Only smokers can get lung cancer
FALSE: Smoking is just one risk factor for developing lung cancer. Between 20,000 and 40,000 non-smokers are diagnosed with lung cancer each year in the U.S., according to the CDC. It’s estimated that secondhand smoke accounts for 7,300 of these cases and radon for about 2,900. Genetic factors can also play a role.
2. Lung nodules are rare
FALSE: Lung nodules are fairly common. In fact, nodules can be found in up to 50% of adults who have CT scans of their lungs. The good news is that most nodules aren’t cancerous.
3. Only older people develop lung cancer
FALSE: While the average age of diagnosis is typically 65 or older, young people – especially young women – can be diagnosed with lung cancer, too.
4. Chemotherapy is always used to treat lung cancer
FALSE: Not every patient with lung cancer is a candidate for chemotherapy. There are several other treatment options available as part of our Comprehensive Lung Cancer Program.
These include drug therapies, radiation and video-assisted thoracic surgery, which can be curative. Our multidisciplinary approach to treatment is tailored to each patient’s unique needs.
5. You would know if you had lung cancer
FALSE: While the most common symptoms of lung cancer include a nagging cough, shortness of breath and chest pain, the disease doesn’t always cause symptoms, especially in its early stages.
“Lung cancer, like most other cancers, is most treatable at its earliest stages,” Dr. Bocage explains. “People at high risk for the disease should get regular screenings, and scans should be compared from year to year to look for changes. CentraState’s Lung Cancer Screening Program has been successful in identifying nodules in the earliest stage of the disease.”
Are you a Candidate for Lung Cancer Screening?
Insurance covers annual screenings for adults ages 50 to 80 (50 to 77 for Medicare) who have smoked a minimum of 20 “pack years” (ie, one pack a day for 20 years; two packs a day for 10 years), currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years and have no symptoms of lung cancer.
Don’t meet these guidelines? CentraState offers a low-cost, self-pay option.
LUNG SCREENINGS AT CENTRASTATE
To learn more or schedule a lung screening, check out the page here.