November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Lung cancer remains the deadliest cancer, claiming more lives in Maryland yearly than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined. With that said, we have made progress. Cigarette smoking — by far the biggest risk factor for lung cancer — has been declining over the past decade. About 16 percent of adult Marylanders currently smoke. Advances in lung cancer treatment, particularly targeted therapy, are also improving the outlook for those who develop this devastating disease.
To decrease your risk of lung cancer, the most important decision is to try to quit smoking. Those who have already quit have overcome a major hurdle, but some remain at high risk of lung cancer. Lung cancer can be found early — before symptoms occur and when it’s most curable. It is recommended that current and former smokers (who have quit in the past 15 years) between the ages of 55 and 80 undergo yearly screening for lung cancer. Screening involves a low-dose chest computerized tomography scan, which should be done every year. The scan takes less than five minutes and doesn’t even require you to get undressed.
Despite the yearly screening recommendation for high-risk current and former smokers, a major challenge is educating the public and health care providers about this important new way to fight lung cancer. Those at highest risk are often hardest to reach, since many people do not regularly see a doctor or health care provider.
Ready to Quit for Good?
- If you think you may qualify for lung screening, talk to your doctor.
- For a lung screening, contact our Lung Screening Program at 443-481-5838.
- If you’re making the decision to quit smoking, help is also readily available. Contact our smoking cessation program at 443-481-5366.
If you’re not at risk, you can help out during Lung Cancer Awareness Month by spreading the word to those who may be at risk. Together, we can continue to fight this deadly disease and potentially help save someone’s life.