Since 1995, a coalition of health care community members and families affected by lung cancer have promoted awareness of this disease every November. Lung cancer claims more lives than any other type of cancer, according to Free to Breathe, a partnership for lung cancer survival. In the U.S.,158,000 people succumb to lung cancer each year -- more than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined. By shedding light on causes, screening and treatment for lung cancer, the activists behind Lung Cancer Awareness Month hope to decrease the disease’s terrible prevalence.

Causes and Prevention

Ninety percent of lung cancer cases are caused by cigarette smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additional risk factors include exposure to air pollution, asbestos or radon, as well as certain family and genetic susceptibilities. Lung cancer prevention efforts are mostly focused on helping smokers quit and preventing young people from taking up the habit. Encouraging exercise and a healthy diet is another approach to lowering the incidence of this disease.

Screening

Organizations such as The U.S. Preventive Task Force and American Cancer Society recommend a low-dose computed tomography (CT) scan of the chest to screen for lung cancer, especially in certain populations, such as those that have a history of smoking and who fall within specific age ranges. Low-dose computed tomography (CT) is safe, painless and fast.

Medical Advances Through Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are ongoing to test new, safer combinations of chemotherapy drugs. At Virginia Cancer Specialists, we are committed to providing the best available and most cutting-edge options to all of our patients, including numerous immunotherapy trials (i.e., trials of therapies that restore the immune system’s recognition of cancer cells)-- more than any other program in the Metropolitan D.C. area. The VCS Research Institute provides top-notch care and the latest trials right in Northern Virginia. You can learn about available trials here.

Awareness and Support

The Lung Cancer Alliance offers many ways to promote awareness of lung cancer and the dangers of smoking. This organization sponsors events throughout the nation in November and offers planning tools to anyone who is interested in creating or sponsoring a fundraiser, marathon or other awareness event. New channels for information, networking and support for lung cancer patients are always being developed. The LCA Unite Mobile App is available for both iOS and Android operating systems, allowing people with lung cancer to connect with others, access information and track the effects of their treatments. With a strong, mutual effort, the toll of lung cancer can be reduced across the country.