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November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Lung Cancer Prevention and Early Detection

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer (excluding skin cancer), and is by far the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined.

Most lung cancers could be prevented, because they are related to smoking (or secondhand smoke). Other risk factors include exposure to radon or other environmental factors. Some lung cancers occur in people without any known risk factors, and it is not yet clear if these cancers can be prevented.

Lung Cancer Risk Factors

Tobacco Smoke

Smoking is by far the leading risk factor for lung cancer. The longer you smoke and the more packs a day you smoke, the greater your risk. Cigar smoking and pipe smoking are almost as likely to cause lung cancer as smoking cigarettes.

Secondhand Smoke

If you don’t smoke, breathing in the smoke of others can increase your risk of developing lung cancer.


According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, this naturally occurring radioactive gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer in this country, and is the leading cause among non-smokers.

Can Lung Cancer Be Found Early?

Symptoms of lung cancer such as cough, chest pain, hoarseness or shortness of breath may not appear until the cancer is advanced and hard to cure. Even if the disease does cause symptoms, they may often be mistaken for other problems, which may delay diagnosis.

In recent years, a study has shown that a test known as a low-dose CT scan can be used to screen people at high risk of lung cancer. Low-dose CT screening can reduce the risk of dying from the disease by finding the cancer at an earlier stage when more treatment options are available.

Who should get low dose CT screening for lung cancer?

  • You have no signs or symptoms of lung cancer
  • You are between the ages of 55-77 (Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services) OR
  • You are between the ages of 55-80 (commercial insurers)
  • You have a 30 pack-year smoking history (i.e., 1 pack per day x 30 years = 30 pack years; ½ pack per day x 60 years = 30 pack years)
  • You are a current smoker, or quit within the past 15 years
  • You’re willing to continue screening on a yearly basis until you no longer meet the criteria.

Adults with a history of smoking can greatly benefit from the low dose CT screening program available at all six Valley Health hospitals. To learn more, ask your doctor or call us at 1-844-LDCT NOW (532-8669).

Source: American Cancer Society