Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - Community Healthcare - 19

Other Causes of
Lung Cancer

The second-leading cause of lung
cancer is secondhand smoke. Living
with a smoker or being exposed to
secondhand smoke at work raises an
individual's risk of developing lung
cancer between 20 and 30 percent,
according to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention. But even brief
exposure can increase risk, albeit by a
small amount.
Another risk factor for lung cancer
is harder to detect: Radon gas is invisible, odorless and naturally occurring.
It forms as uranium and radium decay
in the ground and exists in low levels
in air everywhere. But about 1 in 15
homes in the U.S. has unsafe levels of
radon gas, and radon is responsible
for an estimated 15,000 to 22,000 lung
cancer deaths per year.
Other exposure-based risks include
working around asbestos, airborne
chemicals and diesel fuel; air pollution; and previous radiation therapy
to the lungs.
Genetics also play a role.
"A small percentage of families have
a genetic mutation called T790M,"
Walia says. "If you have this mutation, there is a very high likelihood
that you will develop lung cancer in
your lifetime."

Limited Screening
Guidelines

What makes lung cancer so deadly is
it's often diagnosed at later stages,
when the cancer has already metastasized-that is, spread to other parts
of the body.
Only in the last five years has the
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
recommended annual lung cancer
screening for high-risk patients using
low-dose CT scans. The task force
defines high-risk patients as smokers
or former smokers with a smoking
history of 30 pack years. Thirty pack
years means smoking a pack a day

for 30 years or two packs per day for
15 years.
There are currently no screening
guidelines for nonsmokers. It's best to
talk to your doctor about your individual risk. People with strong family
histories of lung cancer may want to
meet with a genetic counselor about
being tested for T790M.

Know the Signs

Because lung cancer screening is still
in its infancy, it's important to familiarize yourself with the early symptoms of the disease.
Cough that doesn't go away
Coughing up blood
Chest pain that's worse with
coughing or laughing
Hoarseness
Shortness of breath
Persistent bronchitis or
pneumonia
New wheezing
Walia recommends mentioning lung
cancer when talking to your healthcare
team about your symptoms.
"Tell your doctor about any symptoms, like persistent cough, shortness
of breath and fever that's not going
away," she says. "And bring up the
possibility of lung cancer, because it's
certainly possible your doctor isn't
thinking lung cancer if you don't have
obvious risk factors."
The sooner you can get a diagnosis,
the better off you'll be. ■

SCREEN
BEFORE
SYMPTOMS
The hospitals of Community Healthcare
System-Community Hospital in
Munster, St. Catherine Hospital in East
Chicago and St. Mary Medical Center
in Hobart-offer a low-dose CT scan
to screen for lung cancer. Adults
with a past history of heavy smoking
may benefit from a low-dose CT scan
of the lungs for early detection of
lung cancer.
"Patients who are between the
ages or have quit within the past 15
years and have a smoking history of at
least a pack a day for 30 years should
be screened," says Roxanne Karnes,
manager of Cancer Care Services at
St. Mary Medical Center. "Candidates
should also have no signs or symptoms
of lung cancer and have not had a
chest CT in the last 12 months."
People who receive a low-dose CT
scan have a 20 percent lower chance
of dying from lung cancer, according to
screening recommendations from the
National Lung Screening Trial.
"Our goal is to detect lung cancer at an earlier stage, when the
chance of achieving a cure is greater,"
says Karnes.
Lung screenings are available in East
Chicago, Hobart, Munster, Portage,
Schererville, St. John and Valparaiso.
A physician order is required
for screening.

APPOINTMENTS

Schedule Your Screening
Talk to your healthcare team about a lung cancer screening if you are a
current or former smoker and meet the established high-risk criteria. Call
800-809-9828 to schedule an appointment.

FALL 2018

19



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