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No Screening Available for Lung Cancer March 28, 2008

FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact Rebecca Sylvester at 706/828-2394.

No Screening Available for Lung Cancer

AUGUSTA, Ga. – March 25, 2008 – Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Lung cancer kills more women than breast cancer and more men than prostate cancer, according to University Hospital Nurse Practitioner Victoria Burt. Ms. Burt, an ongoing guest on the NBC Augusta Healthy U segment, recently addressed a viewer’s question, “What makes a person more likely to have lung cancer?”

Risk factors for lung cancer are:

  • Age -- more people are diagnosed after age 45.
  • Smoking -- Cigarettes have 4,000 chemicals, many proven to cause cancer.
  • Exposure to second hand smoke.
  • Other risk factors account for less than 15 percent of lung cancer deaths: exposure to radioactive gases, asbestos and other air pollution

“In the early stages, there often are no warning signs or symptoms of lung cancer,” Ms. Burt said. “Larger growths may cause symptoms such as trouble breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, coughing up blood, pain in the shoulder or chest area, hoarseness or problems swallowing.”

People should consult a physician if they have the following:

  • A new constant cough or worsening of an existing cough.
  • Blood in the sputum.
  • Repeated respiratory infections.
  • Chest pain.
  • Breathing problems such as shortness of breath or wheezing.
  • Unexplainable weight loss, poor appetite and or constant tiredness for no reason.

“Don’t wait until the symptoms interfere with daily activities,” she said. “At that point, the disease can be growing and spreading.”

Treatment for lung cancer depends on the type of lung cancer, its stage and whether or not it has spread. Treatment can include surgery to remove the tumor and part or the entire cancerous lung, chemotherapy and/or radiation to shrink the tumor and prevent it from spreading.

“Unfortunately, there is no routine screening recommended by the American Cancer Society,” Ms. Burt said. “The best prevention is to stop smoking. There are many things that may help a person quit such as nicotine replacement, counseling or other prescription medication. It will take the help of a supportive family and friends and a lot of willpower. If you’ve tried to quit before, try again. Continue to try until you are successful.”

University Hospital offers the American Cancer Society Fresh Start Smoking Cessation Program free to the community. Call 706/774-8900 for more information.

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