Lung cancer is often dismissed as a ‘smoker’s disease’ as 87 percent of all lung cancers in the U.S. are smoking-related. Exposure to secondhand smoke also increase the risk of lung cancer. According to a General Surgeon Report, nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke increase their risk of developing lung cancer by 30 percent.

Although it’s the second most common cancer for men and women, it is the most deadly cancer. “To have an idea of how deadly lung cancer is, people have to understand that mortality for lung cancer is higher than breast, prostate and colon cancer combined,” said Celis, who also is director of Mercy’s intensive and critical care unit.

Perhaps one of the reasons lung cancer is so deadly is the fact that it is hard to detect early. “Unfortunately, the signs and symptoms of lung cancer are very unspecific, and for this reason it is very hard to diagnose lung cancer in the early stages,” Celis said. “The most common symptoms are cough, weight loss, shortness of breath, persistent bronchitis or pneumonia, chest pain and coughing up blood, among others.”

Since many of these symptoms often mimic other lung issues, one of the best things you can do to prevent lung cancer is to identify whether you are at high risk so you can seek adequate professional help. Smokers are at the highest risk to develop lung cancer, but there are other factors to be aware of, too.

“The most obvious risk factor is smoking — cigarettes, cigar or pipe. It is associated with up to 80 percent of lung cancer deaths. Other exposures or diseases may increase the risk of lung cancer, such as asbestos, radon, pollution, radiation, certain minerals and metals, family history of lung cancer and HIV/AIDS,” Celis said.

The Lung Cancer Research Foundation (LCRF) held its signature gala, the Sixteenth Strolling Supper, on Wednesday, November 7 at Gotham Hall in New York City. The event, which raised over $1.3 million, featured a special performance by Sutton Foster, Tony Award winner and star of Younger. In celebration of the Strolling Supper, several New York City skyline spires, One Bryant Park, One World Trade Center and One Five One West 42, were illuminated in signature LCRF blue.

”Despite the significant recent advances in lung cancer care, the best opportunity to improve outcomes remains with early detection and rapid diagnosis,” says Skibo. Patient Linda Shepherd, 77, underwent a navigation bronchoscopy after complaints of a sore throat. She says, “I had quit smoking years ago. Not many people find their cancer and have it out in two weeks.” Linda is now cancer free. Skibo will address the detection and diagnostic methods available and discuss how this fits into the bigger picture of improving lung cancer outcomes in Western North Carolina. He will speak while patrons enjoy a healthy meal and he will answer questions following the seminar. To attend this complimentary dinner program, call 800-424-3627 to reserve a space. RSVP is required to attend.

In Stockbridge, GA, National Lung Cancer Awareness Month was recognized this November when Piedmont Henry Hospital urged the community, particularly those deemed high-risk for developing lung cancer, to get the facts about the deadly disease. The hospital will host a free community event on Nov. 15 to educate people about lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women. The two-hour program, “Shining a Light on Lung Cancer,” begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Thomas F. Chapman Cancer Wellness Center on the ground floor in the hospital’s Education Center. Dr. Africa Wallace, a thoracic surgeon at Piedmont Henry, will share information on the newest treatments for lung cancer, prevention and screenings.

Lung Cancer Awareness Ribbon GC4W
Lung Cancer Awareness Ribbon GC4W