November is officially Lung Cancer Awareness Month. The event started back in 1995 as Lung Cancer Awareness Day. As the lung cancer community and the lung cancer movement grew, the awareness activities increased and the day matured into Lung Cancer Awareness Month. During the month, people throughout the country come together to support the lung cancer community and raise awareness about the disease.
Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in one or both lungs. These abnormal cells do not carry out the functions of normal lung cells and do not develop into healthy lung tissue. As they grow, the abnormal cells can form tumors and interfere with the functioning of the lung, which provides oxygen to the body via the blood.
According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women and accounts for about 27% of all cancer related deaths. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be about 221,200 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed in the United States in 2015, with over 2,000 of those cases being diagnosed in West Virginia.
Although smoking is the main cause of lung cancer, lung cancer risk also is increased by exposure to secondhand smoke; environmental exposures, such as radon, workplace toxins (e.g., asbestos, arsenic), and air pollution. The risk of lung cancer can be reduced by quitting smoking and by eliminating or reducing exposure to secondhand smoke and environmental and workplace risk factors.
At the Radiation Oncology Services at Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC), we use radiation therapy to treat lung cancer tumors painlessly and noninvasively. Radiation therapy uses powerful, high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. The treatment is delivered safely, does not involve surgery or require hospitalization, and only takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Side effects are minimal, and are usually mild and manageable.
For more information on how the Radiation Oncology Services at CAMC treats lung cancer with radiation therapy, please click here.