How common is lung cancer? Lung cancer is the most common cause of death due to cancer in both men and women throughout the world. The American Cancer Society estimated that 222,520 new cases of lung cancer in the U.S. will be diagnosed and 157,300 deaths due to lung cancer would occur in 2010. According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, approximately one out of every 14 men and women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer of the lung at some point in their lifetime.

Risk Factors: Tobacco Smoke (the greatest risk factor), Radon (a gas you cannot see, smell or taste and can sometimes be found in homes), Asbestos, Air Pollution, and Family or Personal History of Lung Cancer.

Symptoms: Cough that continues to get worse or won’t go away, shortness of breath and breathing trouble, chest pain, coughing up blood, hoarse voice, frequent infections such as pneumonia, feeling very tired, and unexplained weight loss.

Diagnosing Tools: Physical Exam with Physician during which your doctors listens to your breathing, checks for fluid in the lungs, checks lymph nodes and examines the size of your liver; Chest X-ray; CT Scan (and Spiral CT Scan). If any of the approaches suggests lung cancer, you will be referred to a specialist who may order one or more additional tests to verify the diagnosis and determine the extent of the cancer, often referred to as “staging.”

Treatment:  Specialists who treat lung cancer include thoracic (chest) surgeons, thoracic surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists. Your health care team may also include a Pulmonologist (a lung specialist), a respiratory therapist, an oncology nurse, and a registered dietitian. The choice of treatment depends mainly on the type of lung cancer and its stage. Treatment options may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of treatments. Since lung cancer is hard to control with current treatments, many doctors encourage patients with this disease to consider taking part in clinical trials. In addition, lung cancer and its treatments can cause other health problems that may require the need for pain management, respiratory therapy to assist in managing shortness of breath, psychological support, and more.

Nutritional Counseling: As with most cancers, it’s important for you to take care of yourself by eating well. You need the right amount of calories to maintain a good weight. You also need enough protein to keep up your strength. Eating well may help you feel better and have more energy.

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