Smoking and lung cancer are a big problem nationwide. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death and the second most diagnosed cancer in both men and women in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
With the second highest smoking rate in the country, Kentucky has the highest number of new lung cancer cases diagnosed each year. About 90 percent of all lung cancer cases are caused by smoking. More than 3,300 Kentuckians died from cancer caused by smoking in 2016 alone – a number that is on the rise.
Early detection dramatically increases the success rates of lung cancer treatment. That’s why people with a history of smoking should schedule a lung cancer screening. As the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout nears this November and consideration of smoking is on the minds of many, it’s the perfect time to schedule your screening.
Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment
Lung cancer can be difficult to detect, because there are virtually no symptoms until the disease reaches a dangerous stage. By the time it’s detected, lung cancer has often metastasized, or spread to other parts of the body. The sooner lung cancer is found, the more effective the treatment can be. When symptoms do appear, they might include:
- Persistent coughing that doesn’t go away
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Frequent feelings of exhaustion
- Coughing up blood
Scheduling your screening
The best way to protect yourself from lung cancer is to schedule a screening. Lung cancer screenings can help detect the cancer before dangerous symptoms appear, when the disease is most treatable.
Watch the video below to hear from Hawa Edriss, MD, pulmonologist and intensivist with CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group as she discusses the importance of lung cancer screenings.
We recommend that adults ages 55 and older with a history of smoking or frequent exposure to smoke get screened immediately. We also encourage former smokers who have quit smoking in the past 15 years to make an appointment for a screening.
Doctors specializing in the lungs, called pulmonologists, will screen for, diagnose and treat lung cancer. They will likely use a noninvasive and painless screening procedure called a low-dose computed tomography (CT) scan to detect any signs of lung cancer.
This scan allows the physician to examine different levels – or slices – of the lung tissue at a time, which provides more accurate images of the lungs than a typical chest X-ray. With this attention to detail, the physician can identify the disease in its earliest stages and begin treatment right away.