It may be hard to believe, but there was a time when lung cancer was a rare, uncommon ailment. In the late 1800’s smoking cigarettes became very popular, so by the early 20th century, lung cancer had become a global epidemic, and medical researchers were concluding the primary cause was cigarettes.
In 1964, the US Surgeon General’s Office released its first report on tobacco use. Part of the study’s conclusion said:
Cigarette smoking is carnally related to lung cancer in men; the magnitude of the effect of cigarette smoking far outweighs all other factors. The data for women, though less extensive, point in the same direction. The risk of developing lung cancer increases with duration of smoking and the number of cigarettes smoked per day, and is diminished by discontinuing smoking.
(Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service” (1964)
Today, the numbers of smokers have dropped, but lung cancer remains by far the leading cause of cancer deaths in our area as well as the entire country. Cigarette smoking is still the number one risk factor for lung cancer. In fact, the Center for Disease Control says 80 to 90 % of lung cancer diagnoses are the result of smoking. The other 10 to 20% are caused by second hand smoke, radon gas, and other substances found in some workplaces.
Are you at risk for developing lung cancer? If you meet the criteria below, consider calling SOMC’s Lung Navigator, Jenny Woodyard to talk about scheduling a lung cancer screening-740-356-LUNG (5864).
• Age 55 – 77
• Tobacco smoking history of at least 30 pack-years (which means, on average, you’ve smoked one pack a day for 30 years, or two packs a day for 15 years).
• Current smoker or one who has quit smoking within the last 15 years
• No history of lung cancer
• No signs or symptoms of lung cancer (unexplained weight loss, coughing up blood)
Early detection is the key to helping patients live longer, healthier lives. In fact, CT screenings have proven to reduce lung cancer deaths by up to 20 percent for qualifying high-risk lung patients. November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. It’s a good time to think about your health and do something good for your lungs.