Lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer deaths in America, occurs when abnormal cells grow out of control in one or both lungs. This condition does not often cause noticeable symptoms until it has reached advanced stages, when it may be more difficult to treat.
What are the types of lung cancer?
As the leading provider of oncology services in the Brazos Valley, the St. Joseph Health Cancer Center treats a variety of lung cancers, including:
- Small cell lung cancer (SCLC)
- Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
- Squamous cell carcinoma (epidermoid carcinoma)
- Large cell carcinoma
What are the risk factors and symptoms of lung cancer?
The leading risk factor for developing this condition is a history of smoking. In fact, experts estimate roughly 80% of deaths from this condition are a result of smoking, including cigar smoking and secondhand smoke. Some additional risk factors include:
- Exposure to radon
- Exposure to asbestos
- Exposure to other carcinogenic workplace chemicals or minerals
- Family history of lung cancer
By the time most people with this condition experience symptoms, the disease is at a more advanced stage. However, some people do develop symptoms in the early stages. These can include:
- Persistent cough
- Coughing up blood or rust-colored phlegm
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling weak or tired
- Persistent and/or recurring bronchitis or pneumonia
What is the treatment for lung cancer?
Your course of treatment depends on many factors, including your age and general health. Some of the treatments we provide include:
- Radiation therapy
- Video-assisted thoracic surgery
- Wedge resection
The Lung Cancer Screening Program at St. Joseph Health
Our radiologists at St. Joseph Health use low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) to detect lung cancer. The National Cancer Institute recently conducted research that showed that LDCT performed better than chest X-rays at detecting abnormalities in the lungs early, before the patient had any symptoms, and decreased the risk of dying from lung cancer by 20%, even among heavy smokers. The screening can also help identify suspicious, pre-cancerous nodules.
Most health care plans cover low-dose CT scans at little or no cost to the patient. Check with your insurance provider to find out if your plan is participating in this new screening program.
Request more information and find out if you qualify.