Lung cancer screening important for smokers

November 02, 2017 06:13 PM

Some 200,000 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year and 150,000 will lose their lives to it.

November is "Lung Cancer Awareness Month" and with a reminder that more than 80-percent of lung cancers are caused by cigarette smoking. It's also a time to educate us to the warning signs and value of screening to catch this cancer early.

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"It's a cancer that sees no boundaries between the different sexes, religions, where you live, how you grew up or anything else," noted Dr. Thomas Fabian, chief of thoracic surgery at Albany Medical Center.

Once known a man's cancer, lung cancer's reach has grown. While most cases are linked to smoking, it can affect those who've never lit up.

"Those are a combination of things – occupation, exposures, there's certain professions. Radon is the second most common cause of lung cancer," pointed out Dr. Fabian.

While homes are tested by both buyer and seller to screen for radon - it's another kind of screening that needs more attention, says Fabian. That's low-dose CT scanning for long-time smokers between age 55 and 77 who are still smoking or quit within the last 15 years.

"A number of years ago, the National Lung Cancer Screening Trial came out and showed the survival benefit for patients getting screened compared to chest x-rays," explained Fabian.

The results were so impressive, the study was stopped early to get the screening to those at risk.

"The data's very clear and the survival benefit may be substantially higher than the original 20 percent," pointed out Fabian.

Symptoms of lung cancer are persistent cough and unexplained weight loss.

"Unfortunately, lung cancer will take more American lives than the next three common cancers, breast, colon and prostate combined," acknowledged Fabian.

You can self-refer for the low dose CT screening. Most insurance will cover this. Albany Medical Center provides this screening.

Albany Medical Center and the Times Union are sponsoring a free seminar on lung cancer. It’s November 8 at the Hearst Media Center. Doors open at 5:45.

More information:

Albany Medical Center

Lung Cancer: Early detective, prevention and treatment seminar


Benita Zahn

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