According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 230,000 cases of lung cancer are diagnosed annually in the United States. There are two major subtypes of lung cancer: non-small cell carcinoma and small cell carcinoma, which account for 76% and 13% of lung cancers in the U.S., respectively. Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women, with over 21% of cancer deaths in the U.S. in 2022.
The good news is that lung cancer mortality has decreased by about 5% in the past few years. This is likely a combination of fewer cases of lung cancer combined with improved survival in those patients diagnosed. Modern cancer care involves testing for tumor-specific markers and mutations, to customize individual patient treatment. New cancer treatments like immunotherapy and targeted therapy have resulted in significant improvements in cure rates for lung cancer.
In addition, lung cancer screening has resulted in finding lung cancers at earlier stages, when the cancer is more likely curable. This can also lead to fewer deaths from lung cancer. National guidelines recommend patients over the age of 50 who have smoked the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes daily for 20 years (20 pack-years) discuss lung cancer screening with their provider.
Lung cancer screening is done with a low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan of the lungs yearly. Sometimes, these scans can detect small nodules in the lungs that may represent early cancers. Alliance Cancer Care offers qualified patients LDCT lung scans through our Lung Cancer Screening Program. If you or a loved one is interested in learning more about lung cancer screening, we have two local screening programs at Huntsville Hospital and Clearview Cancer Institute.
Smoking is the leading risk factor for lung cancer, although many patients diagnosed with lung cancer are non-smokers and never smoked. In Alabama, approximately 700,000 (18.5%) of our population are smokers, and this rate is increasing among our teenagers (CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2020). To help decrease the risk of these very aggressive cancers and improve your overall health, we want to help you or your loved ones quit smoking, and promote a tobacco-free environment in our community. If you are a smoker or know someone who is a smoker, the time to quit is NOW. Many programs offer free nicotine replacement to help with quitting.
Our doctors also have some helpful smoking cessation items on our Amazon store, where we also have products recommended to patients receiving radiation treatments.
If you are ready to quit smoking, here are some helpful resources:
– Alabama Quit Now: 1-800-QUIT-NOW
– American Cancer Society Quit for Life: 866-QUIT-4-LIFE
– CDC: How to Quit Smoking
– Alliance Cancer Care’s Amazon Store