The Truth About Lung Cancer: Debunking Myths That Still Exist

Wednesday, January 16, 2019 - by Dr. Patricia Rich

In 2018, more than 230,000 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer. Despite its prevalence, there are still many myths surrounding this disease which is by far the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women. For example, many believe that men and smokers are more susceptible to lung cancer; however, recent stats demonstrate lung cancer has been increasing among two groups in particular: women and non-smokers – something not widely reported. In fact, according to the National Cancer Institute, over the past 36 years the rate of new lung cancer cases among men has dropped by nearly a quarter, while the rate among women has risen 100 percent. Below, I’d like to debunk some additional myths about lung cancer:

MYTH: Lung cancer is a smokers-only disease.   

FACT: While it’s true that most people with lung cancer are (or were) smokers and that smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer, 10 percent of people overall diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked. The symptoms between smokers and non-smokers, however, are basically the same:

·       Persistent or worsening cough

·       Ongoing chest pain

·       Coughing up blood

·       Shortness of breath or wheezing

·       Hoarseness of the voice

·       Difficulty swallowing

·       Loss of appetite

·       Fatigue

·       Recurrence of pneumonia or bronchitis

MYTH: I’ve smoked for years, so quitting now won’t help.

FACT: According to National Institutes of Health, if you quit smoking by the age of 35, you will live 5-10 years longer and decrease the risk of cancer and heart disease. In addition, kicking the habit raises the success rate of surgery, increases the effectiveness of treatment and lowers the risk of dying from causes other than lung cancer.  

MYTH: I’m fine because my primary care physician automatically screens all patients for lung cancer.

FACT: Not all primary care doctors appropriately screen patients who qualify for screening, even though they should. According to the United States Preventive Services Task Force, you should be screened if you are: a current smoker or quit within the last 15 years; between the ages of 55 and 80; or have smoked the equivalent of a pack a day for 30 years. The fact of the matter is more than 25,000 lives would be saved if everyone considered high risk for lung cancer were screened. Currently, Georgia (with a population of over 10 million) boasts only 3.8 screening centers per million people. 

MYTH: Lung cancer can’t be treated.

FACT: While lung cancer typically isn’t curable, it can be treated. Treatment can often not only extend life, but also help alleviate some of the symptoms of cancer as well. Depending on the type and stage of lung cancer you have, your treatment options may include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, targeted therapies, immunotherapies or a combination of these treatments. Survival rates depend on several factors, including how early a tumor is found, whether the cancer has spread beyond the lungs and the quality of treatment, but if lung cancer is caught before it spreads, the likelihood of surviving five years or more improves to 56 percent.

Key takeaways: It’s critical to be educated about the real risks of lung cancer and options for treatment. If you’re a smoker, it’s important to stop smoking to decrease your lung cancer risks. If you’ve ever smoked and/or you are over 55, ask to be screened for lung cancer. Listen to your body and seek treatment as soon as you suspect you have symptoms of lung cancer. 

----

Dr. Patricia Rich is the medical oncology director of the CTCA Lung Cancer Institute and vice chief of staff at CTCA Atlanta in Newnan, Ga. CTCA is a partnering with the American Lung Association's LUNG FORCE on a campaign called Not What You Think in order to raise awareness of and advocacy for lung cancer. For more information, visit: LUNGFORCE.org/ctca.


BlueCare Plus Promotes Jason Lloyd To Vice President

Erlanger Adds 3 Cardiologists To Heart And Lung Institute

CHI Memorial Named Best Regional Hospital By U.S. News And World Report


Jason Lloyd has been named vice president of BlueCare Plus, the BlueCare Tennessee program serving individuals who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid services. Mr. Lloyd oversees ... (click for more)

Officials with the Erlanger Health System welcome two new interventional cardiologists, Drs. Steven Austin, Selwin Abraham and general cardiologist Dr. Paul Stewart, to Erlanger’s cardiology ... (click for more)

CHI Memorial is once again the only hospital in Chattanooga to be named Best Regional Hospital by U.S. News and World Report. On the list of Best Hospitals in Tennessee, CHI Memorial is ranked ... (click for more)


Living Well

BlueCare Plus Promotes Jason Lloyd To Vice President

Jason Lloyd has been named vice president of BlueCare Plus, the BlueCare Tennessee program serving individuals who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid services. Mr. Lloyd oversees all aspects of BlueCare’s Dual Special Needs Program, including marketing, clinical quality, claims, benefits and reporting. In addition, he manages external relationships with brokers, health ... (click for more)

Erlanger Adds 3 Cardiologists To Heart And Lung Institute

Officials with the Erlanger Health System welcome two new interventional cardiologists, Drs. Steven Austin, Selwin Abraham and general cardiologist Dr. Paul Stewart, to Erlanger’s cardiology team. The addition of these specialists will expand the Erlanger Heart and Lung Institute group to more than 20 physicians, spanning eight subspecialties in the field of cardiology. “This ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Man, 44, Stabbed To Death On East Main Street

Chattanooga Police said a 44-year-old man died after being stabbed in the 1200 block of East Main Street around midnight Thursday. Upon arrival, officers located a man suffering from a stab wound. Hamilton County EMS responded and transported the victim to a local hospital. Officers secured the scene and called for the Violent Crimes Bureau to respond. Investigators ... (click for more)

Gary Cross, 23, Is 4th Suspect Arrested In Shooting Death Of Tracy Calloway On July 21

On Friday a fourth suspect, Gary Cross, 23, was arrested on outstanding warrants in relation to the July 21, 2019 shooting which occurred in the 4600 block of Trailwood Drive. The victim from that shooting, Tracy Calloway succumbed to injuries sustained from that shooting on July 22. The arrest of Cross is a result of an extensive investigation by the CPD Homicide Unit. ... (click for more)

Opinion

Good Sports Bar News

Just had dinner Tuesday night at Jonathan's Grille location in Hendersonville, Tn. When in Murfreesboro or Nashville, it's one of my favs. Just a great sports bar concept and menu. So happy to hear the Revelette brothers are bringing their brand (and their pizza night) to the old 212 Market location in downtown Chattanooga. Bring it on! Garry Mac (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

As I stood in the checkout line of the Walmart in Tiftonia this week, my newest friend named Harold asked me, “What’s the difference between an outlaw and an in-law. As I searched my mind, Harold responded, “Outlaws are wanted!” I immediately accepted his joke as a good omen. It helps me to remind readers of The Saturday Funnies, I just collect them during the week and pass them ... (click for more)