Lung Cancer Awareness Week
Did you know that more Americans die each year from lung cancer than from breast,
prostate, and colorectal cancers combined? Lung cancer is the number one cancer
killer of men and women. The It's Time To Focus On Lung Cancer campaign
sponsors Lung Cancer Awareness Week which begins today (November 17-21)
to help raise awareness of this devastating disease.
How big a problem is lung cancer? Approximately
171,900 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in 2003, accounting for 13%
of all new cancer cases. An estimated 157,200 Americans will die in 2003 from
lung cancer, accounting for 28% of all cancer deaths. Of concern is that while
overall cancer incidence rates are declining, lung cancer incidence rates among
women continue to rise. Between 1960 and 1990, deaths from lung cancer among
women increased by more than 400%. This year alone, an estimated 68,800 women
in the U.S. will die from lung cancer. In overall numbers, however, lung cancer
still kills more men than women. An estimated 88,400 men in the U.S. will die
this year from lung cancer.
Lung cancer is an even greater problem in the African
American community. Lung cancer is the second most common cancer among African
American men and women, and it kills more African Americans than any other cancer.
African American men are at least 40% more likely to develop lung cancer than
Caucasian men and more likely to die from it as well: the mortality rate of
African American males with lung cancer is 113.0 per 100,000 people, compared
to 81.7 for Caucasian males. The incidence of lung cancer among African American
males is 124.1 per 100,000 people, compared to 82.9 of Caucasian males. But
African American women have the highest incidence rates of lung cancer (followed
by Caucasians, Asian Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, and American Indians/Native
Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal
cells in one or both of the lungs. While normal lung tissue cells reproduce
and develop into healthy lung tissue, cancerous cells reproduce rapidly and
never grow into normal lung tissue. Lumps of cancer cells become tumors which
disrupt the lung's proper functioning.
Most (87%)-but not all-lung cancers are smoking
related. However, not all smokers develop lung cancer. Quitting smoking reduces
an individual's risk significantly, although former smokers remain at greater
risk for lung cancer than people who never smoked. Exposure to other carcinogens
such as asbestos and radon gas also increases an individual's risk, especially
when combined with cigarette or cigar smoking. Exposure to second hand smoke
has been identified as another risk factor for lung cancer.
While excellent treatments have been developed for lung cancer, the best treatment
is prevention. If you smoke, quit. If you don't, don't start. Teach-and preach-this
to your children as well.
Created: 11/17/2003  - Donnica Moore, M.D.