Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States among both men and women. November is observed as “National Lung Cancer Awareness Month” in the United States — the perfect time to accentuate the numbers and statistics associated with lung cancer.
Sponsored by the Lung Cancer Alliance, the annual campaign helps bring awareness about this deadly disease and the efforts being done to combat the same. It aims to encourage people to take a few minutes to review what is known so far about lung cancer and possibly learn something new.
According to the American Cancer Society’s 2018 estimates, there are about 234,030 new cases of lung cancer (121,680 in men and 112,350 in women). It is estimated that about 14% of new cases of cancers diagnosed in the US are related to the lungs. In most cases, people diagnosed with lung cancer are 65 or older, while a very small number of people diagnosed are younger than 45 years. However, the average age at the time of diagnosis is 70 years. Treatment plans for this condition is based on a number of factors like — overall health, type and stage of cancer and patient preferences.
Typically, lung cancer doesn’t cause any specific signs and symptoms in its earliest stages. Symptoms of this condition usually appear only when the disease reaches its advanced stages. Common signs and symptoms include — coughing up blood (even a small amount), losing body weight, headache, chest pain, shortness of breath and bone pain. However, in some cases, even if some symptoms do appear, many patients may mistake them for other problems such as infections, problems related to smoking and so on. This in turn may cause delay in diagnosis. Physicians may conduct a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation of the symptoms by conducting different screening tests such as computed tomography (CT) scan, chest X-rays, bronchoscopy, sputum cytology and fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy of the lung. These routine tests help to identify the disease in its early stages and begin treatment in order to reduce the chances of complications.
Initially, the awareness event started off as a single-day program “Lung Cancer Awareness Day” in the year 1995. However, as the lung cancer community grew, the awareness activities increased, and the day matured into a full month-long campaign. Within these 23 years, the reach of the campaign widened (both on national and international levels) wherein people throughout the world joined together to support the lung cancer community and raise awareness about the complications of this disease.
The month-long event has succeeded in encouraging people to make significant lifestyle changes like quitting the habit of smoking, eating a healthy diet and engaging in regular physical exercise. This will help the lungs to expand more and pump blood around the body more effectively. Throughout the month of November, an array of activities like fundraising events, free screening programs, distributing posters/leaflets/factsheets, engaging with local media and advocacy groups, wearing White/Pearl color and sharing cancer survivor stories via several social media platforms (like Facebook and Twitter) will be organized to bring more attention towards the need for early diagnosis, routine screening and proper treatment for this deadly, debilitating disease.
For more information, contact the Marshall County Health Department or visit https://www.lung.org/lung-force/about -lung-force/featured-campaigns/lung-can cer-awareness-month.
In addition, people can also help generate awareness and funds at the same time by purchasing a “Lung Cancer Awareness Ribbon” from Amazon through their Amazon Smile program which donates a percentage of every purchase to the Lung Cancer Foundation of America.
Additionally, The Great American Smokeout is November 19, 2020. Held each year on the third Thursday of November by the American Cancer Society, the Great American Smokeout is dedicated to helping people quit smoking. On this day, smokers are encouraged to quit for 24 hours, with the hope that it leads to long-term abstinence.