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This column originally appeared at Times-Herald.com on Wednesday, November 20th, 2013 by Dr. Saeid Khansarina. Board certified in thoracic surgery, Piedmont Newnan Hospital’s Dr. Saeid Khansarinia has special interests in robotic surgery and thoracic oncology. A graduate of the University of California in San Diego, he received his medical degree from St. Louis University and completed his internship and residency in general, thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at the University of Florida. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.
When you hear someone has lung cancer, what is the first thing you do? If you’re like the majority of people in the general population, you’ll ask the person who has been diagnosed with this deadly disease whether or not they have smoked. Contrary to the popular belief, lung cancer is not exclusive to smokers
. While smoking certainly increases a person’s risk of developing lung cancer, it is not the only factor to consider. Lung cancer can affect just about anyone. In fact, studies show that the rate of lung cancer in younger, non-smoking women is actually on the rise
The trouble is: medical experts aren’t sure why more non-smoking women are being diagnosed when the number of new lung cancer cases seems to have plateaued in men. Secondhand smoke and radon exposure
can play a role in the development of lung cancer, but plenty of patients who have rarely been exposed can still have lung cancer, too. Early detection
, the key to beating lung cancer, remains a challenge for healthcare providers because patients rarely present symptoms until it is too late.
The common stereotype that lung cancer is a “smoker’s disease” continues to plague the ability to raise widespread awareness and fundraising efforts for the disease that is second only to heart disease as the largest killer in the United States. Those with known risk factors for lung cancer, including family history and people who have smoked for a long time, are encouraged to get screened and take advantage of Piedmont Newnan Hospital’s discounted, low-dose computed tomography (CT) lung cancer screenings. (For more information, visit piedmont.org/lung
Lung cancer is responsible for claiming the lives of more people than colon, breast and prostate cancer combined
. Yet, so few know about it or think it cannot affect them because they don’t smoke. This year, 159,480 Americans with lung cancer will die. Approximately 16,000 to 24,000 of these people who died never even smoked, according to the American Cancer Society. Symptoms can be as vague as coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, recurring lung infections and hoarseness.
While screening mechanisms are still being developed for younger, non-smoking men and women, it is always important to pay attention to what your body is telling you about your health. If you notice symptoms such as those listed above, it is best to seek help from a medical expert.
for ways to help.
Tori Tomalia with her husband and children.
This letter to the editor was originally published at MLive.com
(Michigan Local News) on November 1st, 2013.
by Tori Tomalia
The pink-infused Breast Cancer Awareness month is drawing to a close, and I have to commend the marketing minds behind that phenomenon, because pink is everywhere. However, few people know that November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month
, and sadly the support for lung cancer research is greatly lacking. Lung cancer 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.
Like many people, I thought little of lung cancer until just a few months ago.
My journey started with a nagging cough, a series of chest colds that seemed to drag on for ages, and a return of my childhood asthma that did not improve despite several different prescriptions.
Then, one afternoon in late May, I got the devastating news that I had lung cancer. As a healthy, non-smoking mother of a five-year-old and two-year-old twins
, I could not fathom how this could be possible. It has spread to my spine, ribs, hip, and liver, making me Stage IV. The prognosis is not good. However, so far the chemo is working to shrink the tumors, buying me more time.
For me, this extra time means that I got to see my son turn five, and attend his first day of kindergarten. I had the gift of watching my girls master the art of riding the tricycle. I went on picnics, movie dates with my husband, and family bowling trips, joys that I once took for granted.
The hope for me lies is sticking around long enough for the next big medical breakthrough in lung cancer. I am hopeful that it is coming. You can help by giving a donation to one of these foundations that fund lung cancer research:Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer FoundationLung Cancer Alliance
, or Text LUNG to 27722 to Make a $10 Donation
The next time you laugh with a friend, sigh at a sunset, or blow out a birthday candle, pause in honor of the lungs that let you do those things. And make sure others get the chance to take their next breath.Tori Tomalia
Follow Tori's journey through this diagnosis and treatment on her blog
INHERIT EGFR Study Expands to Second Site
SAN CARLOS, Calif., Oct. 30, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new research study, funded by the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (ALCF)
, is aiming to understand how an inherited gene in some lung cancer patients could serve as an early detection screening for family members.
"We're hoping this study provides new insight for methods to screen for lung cancer in people who might not have otherwise qualified for screening: the family members of lung cancer patients," said Bonnie J. Addario
, lung cancer survivor and founder of the ALCF. "And we also hope to show that lung cancer doesn't just affect people who smoke."
sk from T
790M) research study, facilitated by the Addario Lung Cancer Medical Institute (ALCMI)
, is the first to apply inherited familial genetics – widely used to assess risk for breast and colon cancer – to provide insight into lung cancer. Dr. Geoffrey Oxnard
and a team of physicians at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center
in Boston, MA are leading the INHERIT study to understand whether the presence of the T790M gene mutation in lung cancers is associated with an inherited gene alteration. Oxnard's team will also examine whether having the inherited form of T790M raises the risk of lung cancer in patients and families. The ALCMI study was launched at Dana-Farber and has now expanded to include Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center
in Nashville, Tenn. No travel is required to participate.
"This is the first time we are using cancer genetics to offer insight into inherited familial genetics. For breast cancer or colon cancer, it is patients with a family history that get evaluated for inherited mutations in cancer risk genes," said Geoffrey Oxnard, MD, the lead researcher on the study. "For lung cancer, we propose that it is patients with specific genetic subtypes of lung cancer, those carrying the EGFR T790M mutation, that need to be evaluated for an inherited mutation in their family."
Ultimately, the study aims to identify individuals and families who may have an increased risk of developing lung cancer so they can work with their physicians to reduce and manage that risk. Understanding lung cancer's underlying biology in high-risk families could also provide unique insight into why the disease develops and determine whether "germline" (inherited) factors may partly explain lung cancer in individuals without apparent carcinogenic association.
"We are funding this study because of our patient first commitment," Addario said, "and with the hope to raise awareness that the risk for lung cancer exists regardless of smoking history. In 2013 alone, 34,000 people who never smoked will be diagnosed with lung cancer. That population of cancer patients, isolated, would represent the seventh leading cancer in the U.S."
The INHERIT study is offered through Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, and soon at other ALCMI member institutions in the United States and Europe. It is led by Geoffrey Oxnard, MD at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center. Dana-Farber and Vanderbilt are National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers.
This study is also funded by the Conquer Cancer Foundation of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)
.FOR MORE INFORMATION:
View video on T790 mutation research at www.dana-farber.org/T790Mstudy
Contact Dr. Oxnard at 617-632-6049, dfcifamilialT790M@dfci.harvard.edu About the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (ALCF)
is one of the largest philanthropies (patient-founded, patient-focused, and patient-driven) devoted exclusively to eradicating Lung Cancer through research, early detection, education, and treatment. The Foundation works with a diverse group of physicians, organizations, industry partners, individuals, survivors, and their families to identify solutions and make timely and meaningful change. The ALCF was established on March 1, 2006 as a 501c(3) non-profit organization and has raised more than $10 million for lung cancer research and patient services.About the Addario Lung Cancer Medical InstituteThe Addario Lung Cancer Medical Institute (ALCMI)
is a patient-founded, patient-focused 501c(3) non-profit research consortium established in 2008 that directly facilitates basic and clinical research to accelerate the discovery and delivery of advancements to patients. By bringing together a world-class team of scientists and clinicians from over 20 academic and community medical centers in the U.S. and Europe, ALCMI has rapidly established a critical mass of expertise and dedicated research infrastructures linked together through centrally coordinated research. SOURCE Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer FoundationRead more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1556776#ixzz2jK46ND7q
by Dr. Lecia V. Sequist
Originally published by CNN.com
Dr. Lecia V. Sequist is a medical oncologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center
, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School
. and a member of the LUNGevity Foundation's
Scientific Advisory Board. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dr. Lecia V. Sequist.
My patient, "Judy," is one of more than 228,000 Americans this year who will be diagnosed with lung cancer.
And like most of her fellow lung cancer patients, she is struggling not only to learn all she can about her diagnosis and treatment options, but also to adjust to the overwhelming burden of shame and stigma
that plagues this disease.
When asked who is providing her with support, Judy said she is ashamed to admit her metastatic, incurable cancer diagnosis to loved ones, and that she is bearing the burden alone. Because one of the strongest risk factors for lung cancer is smoking, our society has come to the conclusion that people diagnosed with lung cancer somehow deserve it, that it was brought on by their own "bad" behavior.
Tell a friend or colleague that your aunt just found out she has lung cancer. Almost always the response will be, "Did she smoke?"
Then tell someone else that your aunt just found out she has breast cancer, or colon cancer, or any other type of cancer you can think of. This time the response will be pure sympathy, without any blame attached.Donna Summer died of lung cancer not related to smoking
The feeling that lung cancer patients should somehow be held liable for their cancer diagnosis is often the only notion people have about lung cancer.Lung cancer is the deadliest cancer
, responsible for more than 25% of all cancer deaths. It kills roughly twice as many women as breast cancer, and almost three times as many men as prostate cancer.
What many people don't realize is that about 60% of all new lung cancer diagnoses are among people who have never smoked or are former smokers, many of whom quit several decades ago
For the first time, the World Health Organization recently declared air pollution as a leading cause of lung cancer. In short, anyone with lungs -- anyone who breathes -- can get lung cancer
Researchers are on the verge of a seismic shift in our ability to diagnose and treat lung cancer, and more funding is desperately needed to bring these promising new therapies to fruition.
In the last five years, researchers have learned that some lung cancers are remarkably sensitive to a new type of treatment, one that comes in a pill and is targeted specifically toward the genetic defects that make that particular cancer "tick."
In clinics across the country, oncologists are testing their lung cancer patients to find out which type of gene the cancer carries so they can know which type of targeted therapy will work best. As a result, some patients are living longer, with fewer side effects and improved quality of life compared to traditional therapies.
In addition, in the last two years researchers have started to learn how to harness the immune system to attack lung cancer, and have seen some patients with advanced disease go into prolonged remission, sometimes lasting long after the immune therapy is stopped. These types of successes in lung cancer treatments would have been unimaginable 10 years ago.Scientists are deeply committed to broadening and improving therapy options until there is an effective treatment for all lung cancer patients.
Unfortunately, the stigma associated with lung cancer has translated to a massive inequality in research funding
. When analyzing the combined 2012 cancer research dollars granted by federal organizations, for every woman who dies of breast cancer, more than $26,000 in federal research funding is devoted to breast cancer research. But for every woman who dies of lung cancer, just over 1,000 federal dollars are invested. The difference is staggering.November is national lung cancer awareness month.
Scientists don't have millions of dollars to spend on marketing to call attention to the need for research dollars. If they did, they would spend that money on research.
You can help by spreading the word
about the need for lung cancer research to family and friends. By rejecting the tendency to blame lung cancer patients for their disease, you can help lift the crushing weight of stigma and guilt that for some can be as bad as the cancer itself.
With increased research, more lives will be saved. Please join me this November and talk about lung cancer, for Judy, and patients everywhere who are too ashamed to mention it.