WHAT: In recognition of Lung Cancer Awareness Month this November, Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), a comprehensive cancer care network of hospitals and outpatient care centers, is partnering with the American Lung Association to educate people that the #1 Cancer killer is Not What You Think.
WHY: Lung cancer is misunderstood:
Myth: Lung cancer rates are trending down for everyone.
Fact: While rates of lung cancer among men have fallen in the last 41 years, the rate of women dying from lung cancer has increased 87%. According to the American Lung Association, however, only 3% of women consider lung cancer a top-of-mind cancer concern.
Myth: Everyone who gets lung cancer is a smoker.
Fact: Radon – a colorless, odorless gas which is quite common in households that aren’t well ventilated – is the second-leading cause (after smoking) of lung cancer in the U.S. It’s estimated that 1 in 13 homes have unsafe levels of radon gas. According to the American Lung Association, exposure to secondhand smoke, radon, and air pollution are also known causes of lung cancer, and sometimes there is no known cause of lung cancer.
Myth: There is no screening for lung cancer.
Fact: There is a newly available lung cancer screening for those considered at high risk for the disease. Screening leads to early detection of the disease, when there are more treatment options and the disease is most curable.
Myth: Breast cancer kills more people than any other kind of cancer.
Fact: The average 5-year survival for lung cancer is among the lowest of all types of cancer. In fact, lung cancer is the leading cancer killer, killing more people than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined.
Physician: Patricia Rich, M.D.
Title: Medical Oncology Director, CTCA Lung Cancer Institute; Vice Chief of Staff, CTCA Atlanta
Dr. Patricia Rich is board certified in internal medicine, with a subspecialty in medical oncology. She has published on the subject of metastatic renal cancer in the prestigious Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. In addition, she has conducted research on a number of types of cancer, including malignant melanoma, advanced renal cell carcinoma, and basal cell and squamous cell and lung carcinomas. She has also researched immunotherapy extensively.
In June 2014, Dr. Rich joined the Georgia Leadership Board of the American Lung Association. The following year, she was selected as member of the American Lung Association’s Lung Cancer Expert Medical Advisory Panel
She earned her medical degree from the University of Miami and received her bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida.
Patient: Khris Anderson
Ms. Anderson was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2015. What started as a dry, hacking cough was diagnosed as a fast-growing tumor in her lungs. The cancer also had spread to her lymph nodes and, despite six weeks of chemotherapy, continued to grow. Because of the failed chemo treatment, her doctors then put her on an immunotherapy treatment plan, which reduced the size of her tumor and improved her quality of life. In fact, her energy level improved to the point that she took up walking as much as 12 miles a week. After consulting with Dr. Rich, the decision was made to remove the right lower lobe of her lung and continue the immunotherapy. The surgery was a success, the tumor has been removed, and Ms. Anderson is fully-functioning once again.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.