November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Lung Cancer Awareness Month was started in 1995, and highlights the struggles that patients and the people that care for them. Lung Cancer Awareness Month also is a way to remember the progress made, and the challenges that yet lie ahead in the prevention of, detection and treatment of lung cancer.
As hematologists and medical oncologists in the San Fernando Valley, we are often asked the progress that has been made in lung cancer. Unfortunately, lung cancer is still one of the most diagnosed cancers in the united states, ranking only behind breast and prostate cancer, but is responsible for more deaths than breast, prostate, and colon cancer combined.
A possible problem is that unlike breast cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer, there until recently has had no screening test for lung cancer. Only recently has the United States Preventative Services Task Force provided a draft of a recommendation for low dose CT scan of the lungs to screen for lung cancer in identified high risk patients who have smoke more than 30 years and are between the ages of 55 and 79. This is recommendation was based on a large, published trial showing a benefit in screening high risk patients for lung cancer.
Another possible issue is that often times, lung cancer has few symptoms. Symptoms of lung cancer include cough, blood in the sputum, fevers, chills, and weight loss which can mimic other diseases, as well as being common symptoms in smokers as well.
More recently, major advances are being made in the treatment of lung cancer. These advances really encapsulate the "personalized medicine" that has been a thrust of cancer care in the last several years. "Personalized Medicine" in this regards generally regards the genetic profile of a lung tumor, and the possibility of treatment with a pill to target the genetic mutation which may be driving the tumor's growth. These pills are generally not considered chemotherapy in the traditional sense with the anticipated side effects.
Drs Omid Shaye, Ashkan Lashkari and Christopher Ho are atuned to the latest developments in lung cancer. We also stand in support of our lung cancer patients. Please return to our blog for more updates during this month on lung cancer developments. Call us at 818 346 1773 for an appointment.