Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, in 2017 alone, there were approximately 222,000 people diagnosed with lung cancer and over 155,000 people died from the disease.
Did you know that up to 20% of people diagnosed with lung cancer are never smokers? While there is a clear association with smoking and lung cancer, there are also environmental factors that independently increase your risk for lung cancer. The most notable is radon exposure, which is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Radon is an odorless, colorless, radioactive and naturally occurring gas. You can’t see it or smell it, but, it can build up in your home. Radon has been found in homes in every state of the nation and the only way to determine if your home is affected it tested.
Research into ways to better detect lung cancer, through screening, and better lung cancer treatment, have made tremendous strides over the past five years, and there is a lot of changes to be hopeful for. For those at highest risk for lung cancer there is an approved screening test. The National Lung Cancer Screening Trial (NLST) demonstrated that a low-dose computed-tomography (CT) scan of the chest can impact survival and quality of life. The U.S Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose CT scan in those aged 55 to 80 years who have a 30 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.
Although, there remains a high risk for recurrence even with early stage lung cancer, if caught early lung cancer remains very treatable. The mainstay of treatments includes surgery or radiation therapy. Research into the addition of immunotherapy in early stage lung cancer appears promising. Later stages, or cancer that has returned after initial treatment, frequently requires chemotherapy or immunotherapy as the standard of care. Individualized treatment strategies combining targeted therapy, immunotherapy and patient specific tumor characteristics help us create specific treatment for each patient.
At Virginia Cancer Specialists, we have dedicated Medical Oncologists on the cutting edge of lung cancer treatment and care. We have numerous clinical research studies to offer in the care of lung cancer. Please feel free to contact me or our team at Virginia Cancer Specialists if we can be of any help to you or your family.