Gros: Now is the time to quit smoking

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, November 9, 2016

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

Lung Cancer accounts for more deaths than any other cancer for men and women in the U.S. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), an estimated 224,390 new cases of lung cancer are expected in 2016, accounting for about 14 percent of all cancer diagnoses.

Though the incidence and mortality rates are declining, Louisiana still ranks among the highest in the nation with an estimated 3,730 new lung cancer cases in 2016.

Usually symptoms of lung cancer do not appear until the disease is already in an advanced stage. Even when symptoms of lung cancer do appear, many people may mistake them for other problems, such as an infection or long-term effects from smoking.

This may delay the diagnosis. Symptoms may include persistent cough, chest pain, voice change, coughing up blood and recurrent pneumonia or bronchitis.

Cigarette smoking, by far, is the leading risk factor for developing lung cancer. The risk for lung cancer among smokers is many times higher than among non-smokers, and the longer you smoke and the more packs a day you smoke, the greater your risk.

If you don’t smoke, breathing in the smoke of others can increase your risk of developing lung cancer.

Exposure to other environmental agents, like asbestos, may also increase your risk.

Smoking cessation reduces not only the risk of certain types of cancer, such as lung cancer, but it also reduces other health problems such as the risk of stroke or coronary heart disease.

Thibodaux Regional Medical Center offers smoking cessation counseling. The group cessation classes meet each week for an hour for nine weeks at the same time.

Information about the physiological, psychological and behavioral aspects of nicotine addiction; the different methods available to help you quit and the steps you can take to make the process easier are covered in these classes.

Learning about and understanding the many facets of the smoking habit can lead you to a successful smoking cessation.

Lung cancer screening is now recommended for people considered high risk for developing the disease. Those who meet criteria are encouraged to talk with their physician about screening with a low dose computed tomography (CT) scan.

These high risk patients must be aged 55 to 74 years and in fairly good health, have a smoking history equivalent to a pack a day for 30 years and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years. Screening is not a substitute for quitting, and the most effective way to lower lung cancer risk is to stay away from tobacco.

At Thibodaux Regional Medical Center, we take an aggressive, multidisciplinary approach to treating lung cancer. Lung cancer detected early gives us the best opportunity for cure, emphasizing that early detection is key.

Laura Gros, RN, is the patient care coordinator with the Cancer Center of Thibodaux Regional Medical Center. She can be reached at 985-493-4008.