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November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Lung cancer is the third most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer related death in the United States.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Lung cancer kills more people than breast, colorectal and prostate cancers combined.  The good news is that the Spectrum Health Cancer Center continues to make great advancements in the treatment of lung cancer.  Spectrum Health is the only health system in West Michigan to offer a lung cancer multi-specialty team clinic.

The leading causes of lung cancer remains cigarette smoking but it can also be caused by radon exposure, hazardous chemicals exposure, particle pollution, and genetics.  Symptoms include a cough that doesn't go away and gets worse over time, hoarseness, Shortness of breath or wheezing, frequent lung infections such a s bronchitis or pneumonia, and coughing up blood.

People with non-small cell lung cancer can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of these treatments.  People with small cell lung cancer are usually treated with radiation therapy and chemotherapy. 

Screening with low dose computed tomography LDCT has been shown to reduce lung cancer mortality by about 20% compared to chest X-Ray among current or former (quit within 15 years) heavy smokers

The best way to prevent lung cancer is not to start smoking and to quit if you already do.  Experts also advise that you avoid secondhand smoke, make your home and car smoke-free, and get your home tested for radon.  Spectrum Health now offers a lung cancer screening clinic. This past year the program was again named a Screening Center of Excellence by the Lung Cancer Alliance, recognizing that Spectrum health is committed to best practices in quality and standards in lung cancer screening.  The clinic has screened more than 4,000 patients and in a little over three years, has identified 75 lung cancers and 18 incidental cancers. 

Screening should be done for adults aged 55 to 80 years who have a 30 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.  Patients can be referred to the screening program or self-refer (1-885-SHCANCER) or (486-LUNG). 

Screening is covered by most insurers as a preventative screening if patients meet criteria.  To learn more about the Lung Cancer clinic or schedule an appointment, visit www.spectrumhealth.org/lungcancer   

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