News Headline: Family Matters: Lung Cancer and COPD Are Two Important Issues Being Focused on During November
Outlet Full Name: TC Palm
Author: JSG Medical Plan
STUART — Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in the United States, while as many as 24 million people in the United States are living with debilitating COPD, according to the American Lung Association. Countless Americans and their loved ones struggle with lung cancer and COPD, and yet both are frequently overlooked. November’s Lung Cancer Awareness Month and COPD Awareness Month highlight these two deadly diseases in a critical effort to promote awareness.
While lung cancer often takes second billing to other cancers, the disease has an unparalleled toll: lung cancer alone kills more people than the three other most common cancers — colon, breast and prostate — combined. While it used to be considered a “men’s disease,” lung cancer has become an equal opportunity killer; it is also a relatively silent one: while lung cancer in women is alarmingly on the rise, it receives significantly less attention than breast cancer.
Lung cancer is caused by the mutation of cells which cluster to form a tumor. Malignant tumors continue to grow if left untreated, spreading to surrounding lung tissue and other parts of the body through the blood and lymph fluids. This can lead to blocked airways, difficulty breathing and inhibited functionality of other affected organs.
Anyone can get lung cancer, although it is most commonly caused by the inhalation of toxic substances. Smoking causing a staggering 87 percent of all cases, but it’s not just smokers who are affected: nonsmokers who breathe in secondhand smoke also contract the disease. Exposure to radon, hazardous workplace chemical and particle pollution — such as exhaust smoke — are all causes of lung cancer; genetics also plays a role. Protect your lungs by quitting smoking, limiting exposure to environmental and industrial hazards and joining the fight against pollution.
Lung cancer is particularly dangerous because it is difficult to diagnose in early stages. Many people don’t experience pain or discomfort until the cancer has spread. Early symptoms can include any or all of the following: a chronic cough, hoarseness, chest pain, wheezing or shortness of breath, frequent lung infections, including bronchitis and pneumonia, and coughing up blood. In an effort to catch lung cancer in its early stage, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended annual CT screenings as the new standard of care for high risk smokers.
Treatment of lung cancer is much more successful when early diagnosis occurs. Researchers are working on diagnostics tests to find lung cancer earlier, as well as studying innovative treatments to help those living with the disease.
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), which includes both emphysema and chronic bronchitis, also affects the respiratory system. While it is preventable and treatable, it is also dangerously under-acknowledged: the third leading cause of death in the United States, COPD is insidious: while 12 million people have been diagnosed with the disease, an additional 12 million are estimated to be living with it.
COPD causes a reduction in air flow in and out of the lungs due to inflammation, loss of elasticity and excess mucus. As the disease worsens, even everyday activities become challenging due to shortness of breath. While COPD can be managed effectively if found early most people aren’t familiar with the warning signs. Symptoms include coughing with or without mucus, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, wheezing and tightness in the chest.
Smoking causes up to 90 percent of COPD cases, with air pollution and environmental irritants also factoring in. If you experience any symptoms and are a smoker or have been exposed to other risk factors, arrange for a consultation with your physician. Delayed treatment can result in a permanent loss of lung function. If you are diagnosed with COPD, your physician will propose a treatment plan. Eliminating smoking is the most effective course; other treatments include medication, oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation and, in severe cases, surgery.
Scientists and researchers are striving to find better diagnosis techniques, improved treatments and ultimately a cure for both COPD and lung cancer. Join the American Lung Association in supporting their efforts by sharing this message of awareness with friends, family and fellow community members.
Dr. Jeffrey Gorodetsky, Family Physician, and the staff of JSG Medical Practice operate a Hybrid Practice with the choice of Concierge Medical Care or Traditional Medical Care. JSG Medical Practice is located in Stuart. For more information on this topic and other family health & medical issues, visit http://www.jsgmedical.