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Published on October 31, 2013

SRHS Events Raise Awareness of Lung Cancer

Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System (SRHS) has scheduled several events in recognition of Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Additionally, the Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute is offering a new form of lung cancer screening that shows greater detail than standard screens.

Lung Cancer Awareness Month has grown dramatically from its initial inception of Lung Cancer Awareness Day in 1995. As the lung cancer community and the lung cancer movement grew, the awareness activities increased and grew into Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

SRHS Lung Cancer Events

• Shine the Light on Lung Cancer Prayer Vigil
Nov. 14, 6:30 p.m., Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute Garden 
101 East Wood Street, Spartanburg
Led by pastors from three area churches and specialized physicians, the vigil will provide hope, support and compassion for those impacted by lung cancer and those at risk.

• Lung Cancer Lunch & Learn
Nov. 15, 12-1 p.m., Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute Auditorium
101 East Wood Street, Spartanburg
William T. Joyce, III, M.D., a radiologist at SRHS, will discuss the importance of lung screening and the latest advances in the field. Lunch will be served. Because seating is limited, call 864-560-6747 to reserve a space.

• The Great American Smokeout
Nov. 21
The American Cancer Society marks the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November each year by encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. By quitting—even for one day—smokers will be taking an important step towards a healthier life—one that can lead to reducing cancer risk.

Gibbs Offers New Lung Screening Procedure 
(For information or to determine screening eligibility, please call 560-1990.)
According to the National Cancer Institute, lung cancer screening has been proven to lower mortality by 20 percent. Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute now offers low-dose computerized tomography (LDCT) lung screenings at its Spartanburg and Pelham locations to individuals who are high risk for developing lung cancer.

The screening, available only by physician order, is a noninvasive, painless procedure using low-dose X-rays to screen the lungs for cancer. The scans show greater detail than standard chest X-rays and can detect smaller cancer nodules.

Understanding the Basics of Lung Cancer

Lung cancer causes more deaths than the next three most common cancers combined (colon, breast and prostate). When a person has lung cancer, they have abnormal cells that cluster together to form a tumor. Unlike normal cells, cancer cells grow without order or control and destroy the healthy lung tissue around them. These types of tumors are called malignant tumors.

Because there are very few nerve endings in the lungs, lung cancer symptoms often do not reveal themselves until the disease is in its later stages. A tumor could be in the lungs without causing pain or discomfort. 

When symptoms are present, they are different in each person but may include:

• A cough that doesn’t go away and gets worse over time
• A chronic cough or “smoker’s cough”
• Hoarseness
• Constant chest pain
• Shortness of breath, or wheezing
• Frequent lung infections, such as bronchitis or pneumonia
• Coughing up blood

Some symptoms of lung cancer may not seem related to the lungs or breathing. This means some symptoms do not appear until the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. These symptoms may include:

• Weight loss
• Loss of appetite
• Headaches
• Bone pain or fractures
• Blood clots

Who is at high risk of developing lung cancer?

Persons age 55-74 who have:

• A smoking history of at least 30 pack years (one pack per day for 30 years or two packs per day for 15 years)
• Stopped smoking less than 15 years ago

Persons age 50 and older who have:

• A smoking history of at least 20 pack years (one pack per day for 20 years or two packs per day for 10 years) 
• A history of lung cancer, lymphomas, head & neck cancer or other smoke-related cancers
• A documented family history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or pulmonary fibrosis
• Radon or other environmental exposure such as asbestos

Reducing Your Risk of Lung Cancer
There are several ways to reduce your risk of developing lung cancer.

• Don’t Smoke
There is no risk-free level of tobacco smoke. Tobacco use is the major cause of lung cancer in the United States. About 90 percent of lung cancer deaths in men and nearly 80 percent of lung cancer deaths in women in this country result from smoking. The most important thing a person can do to prevent lung cancer is to not start smoking, or to quit if they currently smoke.

• Maintain a Healthy Diet
Fruits and vegetables are rich with antioxidants and flavonoids. Antioxidants and flavonoids help protect your cells’ DNA and repair damaged cells.

• Test Your Home for Radon
Radon is the result of broken-down uranium. It is a radioactive gas that cannot be seen, felt, smelled or tasted. Uranium occurs naturally in the soil, and the fear is that homes are being built over natural deposits, creating high levels of indoor radon exposure, which can lead to lung cancer.

• Know What You Are Being Exposed to in the Workplace
Gasoline, diesel exhaust, arsenic, vinyl chloride, nickel chromates, coal products, mustard gas, and chloromethyl ethers are all carcinogens and may be present in work environments. Talk to your employer about limiting exposure.

• Keep Away From Secondhand Smoke
This smoke contains more than 60 known carcinogens (cancer causing agents). These carcinogens interrupt normal cell development, otherwise known as the onset of cancer.

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