Lung Cancer Awareness Month – November 2020

Lung Cancer Awareness Month – November 2020

Each year research and advocacy organizations come together to raise awareness and educate the public about risk factors, causes, and treatments for lung cancer, which effects over 220,000 Americans each year. As the second most common cancer in both men and women, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death each year. However, cancer cases are decreasing slightly year by year, partly due to people quitting smoking.

According to the American Cancer Society, the following are common risk factors for lung cancer:

• Smoking/Tobacco Use/ Secondhand smoke
• Asbestos 
• Radon
• Dietary Supplements (such as beta carotene)
• Arsenic
• Air Pollution
• Certain radiation therapies
• Family history

Having a risk factor does not necessarily mean that your will develop lung cancer in your lifetime. Conversely, there are many who have been diagnosed with lung cancer who have had little to no risk factors throughout their lifetime. Some risk factors such as smoking or exposure to asbestos are risk factors that can be changed, ultimately decreasing chances of cancer development. Unfortunately, some risk factors such as family history cannot be changed, and in these instances, it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle so to not increase your chances.

Lung Cancer and Asbestos Exposure

Airborne asbestos fibers are easily inhaled and can become trapped inside a person’s lung. As the fibers work themselves deeper into the tissue of the lungs, the infected areas become inflamed and scarring occurs (this is known as fibrosis). Normal cells change and cluster together, forming tumors that eventually grow, spread, and damage other organs in the body.

The Helsinki Criteria was established to offer more concrete evidence and guidelines that some lung and pleural illnesses are connected to asbestos exposure. The groups’ studies found that the risk of lung cancer in relation to asbestos exposure varies due to the length of exposure, the industry worked, and the type of asbestos used. The risk of lung cancer is expected to rise between 0.5 percent and 4 percent for each year that a person is continually exposed, making the duration that one is exposed to asbestos one of the most important factors in determining lung cancer due to asbestos exposure.

Lung Cancer Treatments

A lung cancer diagnosis is not one without hope, as there are many treatment options available and numerous clinical trials/ongoing studies to further advance medicine. Treatment options vary by stage, diagnosis, and genomic testing – which analyzes the DNA in the tumor. The results of that analysis may determine if chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, etc., will be the most effective. Additionally, immunotherapy treatments have been proven effective and are now a viable option for those suffering from lung cancer, if they qualify. By strengthening the body’s own immune system to attack and kill cancer cells, heathy cancer cells remain unaffected and the patient does not experience the side effects that typically accompany chemotherapy and radiation.

Advancements in lung cancer treatments is made possible through donor support, as it gives scientists and researchers the necessary tools to investigate new treatment possibilities in a safe and effective environment.  LUNGgevity and other organizations aim to raise awareness about screening opportunities, risk factors and statistics, and how you can contribute to the cause. Donations can be made here. 

This November GPW supports Lung Cancer Awareness Month while continually fighting for those suffering from lung cancer who were exposed to asbestos. If you or a loved one is suffering from lung cancer or mesothelioma, contact GPW today for a free consultation and speak to one of our asbestos attorneys.

Allen Gibbs, MD; Richard Luther Attanoos, MD;  Andrew Churg, MD;  Hans Weill, MD, “The ‘Helsinki Criteria’ for Attribution of Lung Cancer to Asbestos Exposure,” Archives of Pathology Lab Medicine – Vol 131 (February 2007). [Link]

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