Lung Cancer Awareness Month

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and St. Elizabeth Healthcare is using that opportunity to focus on the importance of early detection and screening for the successful treatment of lung cancer.

If you are a current or former smoker, the statistics are sobering.

• 85 percent of lung cancer is caused by smoking.
• Kentucky has the second highest percentage of smokers in the nation.
• Lung cancer kills more people in Kentucky than the next nine cancers combined.

The facts are daunting. But with early detection and expert healthcare, the likelihood of successful treatment of lung cancer has greatly increased.

Symptoms of Lung Cancer
The first step to treating lung cancer is to know that it’s there. Symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • Persistent cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Chest pain
  • Hoarseness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Shortness of breath
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Reoccurring chest infections

If you have any of these symptoms, contact your primary care physician to discuss if further testing and treatment is needed.

Stop Smoking
Smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, now is the time to quit if you want to decrease your chances of developing this deadly disease.

Quitting smoking isn’t easy but it is possible. St. Elizabeth offers Freshstart ® – a free 4-week program developed by the American Cancer Society. Freshstart® is designed to help you take charge of your efforts to quit smoking or using other forms of tobacco. The program uses group interaction to support your quitting goals and individual attention to determine what will work best for you.

For more information or to register for the next session, please call (859) 301-5570.

Screenings Save Lives
St. Elizabeth offers low dose CT screenings, which can help reduce lung cancer deaths by 20 percent. Unlike a standard chest X-ray, low dose CT provides the earliest detection of lung cancer – often catching it even before symptoms appear. Detecting lung cancer in its earliest stages is key to increasing the chance of survival. In fact, the five-year survival rate for Stage I lung cancer is greater than 70 percent compared to 1 percent survival for Stage IV.

In order to qualify for a low dose CT screening, you must:

  • Be between 55 and 77 years old.
  • Smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years.
  • Have a history of heavy smoking.

Heavy smoking means you have a smoking history of 30 pack years or more, which depends on the number of cigarettes smoked per day. A pack year is defined as the number of packs per day times the number of years you smoked. For example, if you smoked one pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years that equals 30 pack years. If you smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for 15 years, or three packs a day for 10 years, that also equals 30 pack years. The more cigarettes you smoke, the less time it takes to meet the criteria.

St. Elizabeth is a designated Screening Center of Excellence with the Lung Cancer Alliance. If you are interested in a low dose CT screening, please contact your primary care physician to get an order or call (800) 737-7900 for more information.

Celebrate Lung Cancer Awareness Month by taking the required steps to help ensure your continued health and wellbeing.