Wellness Wednesday: November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Lung cancer is the #1 cancer killer of women in the United States.

lung_cancer_awarenessLung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women (not counting skin cancer), and is by far the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.

Most lung cancers could be prevented, because they are related to smoking (or secondhand smoke), or less often to exposure to radon, asbestos or other environmental factors. The more cigarettes you smoke per day and the earlier you started smoking, the greater your risk of lung cancer. But some lung cancers occur in people without any known risk factors for the disease and it is not yet clear if these cancers can be prevented.

Common symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • Coughing that gets worse or doesn’t go away
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Feeling very tired all the time
  • Weight loss with no known cause

Prevention

QuitSmoking3Not all lung cancers can be prevented, but there are some ways you can reduce your risk of getting lung cancer. The best way to reduce risk is not to smoke and to avoid breathing in other people’s smoke.

If you stop smoking before a cancer develops, your damaged lung tissue gradually starts to repair itself. No matter what your age or how long you’ve smoked, quitting may lower your risk of lung cancer and help you live longer. People who stop smoking before age 50 cut their risk of dying in the next 15 years in half compared with those who continue to smoke.

Limiting your exposure to secondhand smoke might also help lower your risk of lung cancer, as well as some other cancers.

Radon is an important cause of lung cancer. You can reduce your exposure to radon by having your home tested and treated, if needed.

Avoiding exposure to known cancer-causing chemicals, in the workplace and elsewhere, may also be helpful (see “What are the risk factors for lung cancer?”). When people work where these exposures are common, they should be kept to a minimum. Be sure to follow proper safety procedures, such as wearing a respirator, if this applies at your workplace.

A healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables may also help reduce your risk of lung cancer. Some evidence suggests that a diet high in fruits and vegetables may help protect against lung cancer in both smokers and non-smokers. But any positive effect of fruits and vegetables on lung cancer risk would be much less than the increased risk from smoking.

Some people who get lung cancer do not have any clear risk factors. Although we know how to prevent most lung cancers, at this time we don’t know how to prevent all of them.

Early Detection and Screening

lungcancerMost lung cancers have already spread widely and are at an advanced stage when they are first found. These cancers are very hard to cure. But in recent years, doctors have found a test that can be used to screen for lung cancer in people at high risk of the disease. This test can help find some of these cancers early, which can lower the risk of dying from this disease.

American Cancer Society Screening Guidelines for lung cancer

Exams and tests to look for lung cancer

Diagnosis and Treatment

Doctors diagnose lung cancer using a physical exam, imaging and lab tests. Lung cancer is treated in several ways, depending on the type, stage, and how advanced it is. 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.

  • Surgery. An operation where doctors cut out cancer tissue.
  • Chemotherapy. Using special medicines to shrink or kill the cancer. The drugs can be pills you take or medicines given in your veins, or sometimes both.
  • Radiation therapy. Using high-energy rays (similar to X-rays) to kill the cancer.
  • Targeted therapy. Using drugs to block the growth and spread of cancer cells. The drugs can be pills you take or medicines given in your veins.

Sources: American Cancer Society, NIH: National Cancer Institute and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


More Information

How the American Cancer Society Fights Lung Cancer
CDC: Lung Cancer Awareness
Free to Breathe
National Cancer Institute

Wellness Wednesday: Wash Your Hands

Keeping hands clean is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of infection and illness.

Layout 1Handwashing is easy to do and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness in all settings—from your home and workplace to child care facilities and hospitals. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community.

Learn more about when and how to wash your hands.

When should you wash your hands?

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After touching garbage

What is the right way to wash your hands?

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

What should you do if you don’t have soap and clean, running water?

Hand hygiene saves livesWashing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of microbes on them in most situations. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of microbes on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs.

Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.

How do you use hand sanitizers?

  • Apply the product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).
  • Rub your hands together.
  • Rub the product over all surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)


More Information:

WHO Tips for Patients

CDC Handwashing Video

CDC Hand Hygiene Brochure

Wellness Wednesday: Regular Screenings Can Help Catch Breast Cancer Early

breast-cancer-ribbonAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early and studies show that finding breast cancer early saves lives.

During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Mercy Health System would like to encourage you to care for yourself, or the women in your life, by reminding you of the importance of regular screenings.

The American Cancer Society and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recommends that women begin having annual mammograms starting at age 40*. However, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force suggests beginning annual mammograms at age 50 and women between the ages of 40 and 49 should consult with their health professional about when she should have a mammogram.

It is also recommended that women have a clinical breast exam every three years during their 20s and 30s and every year over the age of 40. Women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast changes to a health care provider right away. Breast self-exams are an option for women starting in their 20s.

There are certain circumstances under which you should consult your Primary Care Physician (PCP) before scheduling a mammogram. If you are pregnant or have been breastfeeding during the last six months, call your doctor and ask if a mammogram would be appropriate.

Having a PCP who can coordinate your care is vital to your good health. A PCP typically specializes in family medicine, internal medicine or general practice. If you don’t have a PCP, finding one is easy! Just visit your insurance carrier’s website, look for the “find a doctor” area and follow the instructions.

To find a Mercy Health physician, visit our website at www.mercyhealth.org/find-a-doctor.

* The American Cancer Society issued new guidelines for breast cancer screenings as of October 21, 2015. Read the CNN news report.


Watch Mercy Health System’s Pink Glove Dance video and share with your friends!


More Information:

http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/screening.htm

http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/pdf/breastcancerfactsheet.pdf

http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/

http://www.cancer.gov/types/breast