Definition of lung cancer: Cancer that forms in tissues of the lung, usually in the cells lining air passages. The two main types are small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. These types are diagnosed based on how the cells look under a microscope.
Lung and Bronchus Cancer in the U.S. and Mississippi
There will be an estimated 219,440 new cases and 159,390 deaths from lung cancer (non-small cell and small cell combined) in the United States in 2009.
Source: National Cancer Institutes
Click here to view more information on Lung Cancer from the National Cancer Institutes.
In Mississippi, an estimated 2,290 new lung and bronchus cancer cases and 2,030 deaths were expected to occur in 2008. Nationally, lung/bronchus cancers account for 12.6% of cancer diagnoses and 28.7% of all cancer deaths, in Mississippi 17.1% and 33.8%, respectively. The 2000-2004 age-adjusted mortality rate for lung/bronchus cancer in Mississippi was 68.4 per 100,000. This type of cancer has significantly declined in men over the past 20 years, but the female population saw an increase in incidence peaking in the 1990s. Since 1987, more women have died each year of lung cancer than from breast cancer, which for the previous 40 years had been the major cause of cancer death in women.
Source: Mississippi Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan 2006-2011
Click here to view the Mississippi Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan 2006 - 2011.
Lung and Bronchus Cancer at Forrest General Hospital
At Forrest General Hospital, bronchus and lung cancer is the cancer site with the highest number of cases. The Cancer Registry reported 222 cases in 2007.
Symptoms of Lung Cancer
The presence of a symptom does not mean you have lung cancer, but you should consult a physician if you notice any of the following:
- A cough that doesn't go away
- Trouble breathing
- Chest discomfort
- Streaks of blood in sputum (mucus coughed up from the lungs)
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss for no known reason
- Feeling very tired
Screening, Prevention and Risk Reduction
Chest x-ray and sputum cytology and are two tests that have commonly been used to screen for lung cancer. Currently, there are no screening tests that have been clinically proven to reduce the risk of mortality from lung cancer.
Other tests that may be used to diagnose lung cancer include physical exam and history, CAT scan, PET scan, bronchoscopy, fine-needle aspiration of the lung, thoracoscopy, and thoracentesis.
A risk factor is something that may increase the chance of developing a disease. Risk factors for lung cancer include:
- Tobacco: Smoking tobacco products in any form have been shown to be the major cause of lung cancer. People who stop smoking and never start again lower their risk of developing lung cancer or of having lung cancer recur (come back).
Forrest General is committed to improving the health of our community. As part of our commitment to this goal, the Forrest General campus is designated as a tobacco-free environment.
- Second-hand tobacco smoke (smoke that comes from a burning cigarette or other tobacco product or smoke that is exhaled by smokers) also causes lung cancer. Inhaling second-hand smoke is called involuntary or passive smoking.
Forrest General Hospital offers a tobacco cessation program through the Forrest General Wellness Program. Click here for more information on tobacco cessation.
- Environmental Causes: Cancer-causing agents include asbestos, radon, arsenic, chromium, nickel, tar, and soot. These substances can cause lung cancer in people who have never smoked, and combine with cigarette smoke to further increase lung cancer risk in smokers. Air pollution may also increase the risk of lung cancer.
- Family history of lung cancer: People with a father, mother, brother, or sister who had lung cancer may be at slightly increased risk of the disease, even if they don't smoke.
- Personal history of lung cancer: People who have had lung cancer are at increased risk of developing a second lung tumor.
- Age over 65: Most people are older than 65 years when diagnosed with lung cancer.
- Diet and Physical Activity: A diet rich in fruit, and possibly vegetables, may help lower the risk of lung cancer, while heavy alcohol drinking may increase the risk of lung cancer. In addition, studies show that people who are physically active may have a lower risk of lung cancer than those who are not.
Click here for more information on Forrest General Wellness fitness, weight management, and other health and lifestyle programs.
Treatment of Lung Cancer
The specific treatment for lung cancer depends on the cell type of the tumor, the size and location, the patient's age and clinical condition, and whether the cancer has spread locally or distantly to other parts of the body.
Treatment may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted drug therapy or a combination of these therapies. You may be treated by a specialist in pulmonary medicine, a surgeon, a medical oncologist, or a radiation oncologist.
To locate a physician, call FGH OnCall at 1-800-844-4445 or click here to search for a physician who is on staff at Forrest General Hospital.
Information Reviewed by: Walid Younis, M.D., Pulmonary Medicine/Critical Care