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Lung Cancer

Patient Education at Southern Regional

Before you can launch an effective battle against lung cancer, it's important to understand the basics. Here you'll find some answers that will help you move forward with a solid grounding in the facts and be able to more effectively fight lung cancer.

What is Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, among both men and women. It claims more lives each year than colon, prostate, lymph and breast cancers combined.

Yet most lung cancer deaths could be prevented. That's because smoking accounts for nearly 90 percent of lung cancer cases. Your risk of lung cancer increases with the length of time and number of cigarettes you smoke. If you quit smoking, even after smoking for many years, you can significantly reduce your chances of developing lung cancer. Protecting yourself from other risk factors for lung cancer, such as exposure to asbestos, radon and secondhand smoke, also decreases your risk.

Prevention and Detection

Tobacco is the leading cause of lung cancer. Smoking and chewing tobacco have been definitively linked to lung cancer, as well as to cancer of the mouth. Even secondhand tobacco smoke is a risk factor for lung cancer.

Therefore, the most important prevention measure is to not use any tobacco and to reduce or eliminate your exposure to secondhand smoke.

If you do use tobacco, you can reduce your risk for lung cancer by quitting. Former smokers will still have a higher risk of developing lung cancer than non-smokers even years after quitting smoking. The benefit of quitting smoking is greater if it occurs at a young age.

Risk Factors

The following risk factors increase the chance of developing lung cancer.

  • Smoking – Tobacco smoke causes more than 8 out of 10 cases of lung cancer.
  • Asbestos – People who work with asbestos have a higher risk of getting lung cancer.
  • Radon exposure – A radioactive gas made by the natural breakdown of uranium.
  • Cancer-causing agents in the workplace – These include uranium, arsenic, vinyl chloride, nickel chromates, coal products, mustard gas, chloromethyl ethers, gasoline and diesel exhaust
  • Marijuana – Many of the cancer-causing substances in tobacco are also found in marijuana.
  • Other diseases – Tuberculosis (TB) and some types of pneumonia often leave scars on the lung, which can increase the risk of developing lung cancer.
  • Personal and family history of lung cancer
  • Diet – Some reports suggest that a diet low in fruits and vegetables might increase the risk of lung cancer in people who are exposed to tobacco smoke. Evidence suggests that fruits and vegetables may offer protection against lung cancer.
  • Gender – Several studies have shown that the lung cells of women are more likely to develop cancer when exposed to tobacco smoke.
  • Air pollution – In some cities, air pollution may slightly increase the risk of lung cancer. But the risk is still far less than that caused by smoking.

Treatment Options

In recent years, there have been many advances in treatments for lung cancer. There is an extensive menu of treatment choices that fight the complex mix of cells in each individual cancer.

Southern Regional provides the most advanced treatments and state-of-the-art surgical options. And we have plenty of resources to help you make informed decisions.