Thank you AstraZeneca for sponsoring this post. November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Now more than ever, there is reason for hope. Please visit LIVE W.E.L.L. and LVNG With Lung Cancer for more information.
We never know what life has in store for us and our loved ones but we do know it is full of many sweet ups, downs, twists, turns and sometimes even Cancer. We probably all know someone who has a Cancer story full of these very twists and turns so in honor of Lung Cancer Awareness Month this November let’s spread the word about this disease together! Now more than ever, there is reason for hope for those diagnosed with lung cancer like my best friend’s dad, “Mike” who is now a lung cancer survivor.
In 2005 “Mike” had a spot on his neck that his doctor was concerned about (especially since he was a smoker) so a scan was ordered. That scan revealed a spot on his lung which was later diagnosed as Stage 2 small cell Lung Cancer. Talk about a twist of events for this family as Mike had absolutely no symptoms and was now faced with a world of decisions to make about his health. Since it was caught early enough for surgery, Mike had his upper lobe of his left lung removed shortly after his lung cancer diagnosis. The doctors were confident that they took out all the cancer and recommended chemo just to be sure but Mike and his family decided not to go that route.
Lung Cancer Facts
In the United States, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women, accounting for approximately 154,000 deaths each year and about one-quarter of all cancer deaths – more than breast, prostate and colorectal cancers combined. In 2018, an estimated 234,000 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer – that is three and a half times the number of seats in a typical professional football stadium.
There are four main “stages” of NSCLC, defined primarily by the size of the tumor and how far the cancer has spread within or outside of the lungs. With the advancement of treatment options, it is critical for patients not to give up – to be aware of their options and talk to their doctor about what treatments may be appropriate for them.
Advancement of treatment options
In recent years, researchers have come to understand important details of how lung cancer grows and spreads. This has led to important new treatment options that treat cancer differently from conventional therapies, like chemotherapy and radiation. Two important types of therapy are targeted medicines and immunotherapies. In later stages of lung cancer, particularly stages 3 and 4 NSCLC, these types of medicines are changing the way cancer is treated.
Talk to your health care provider
Lung cancer treatment is a big decision, and patients deserve the best option for them from the get-go. Just as a team coach wants to draft the best player first rather than wait until a later draft round, there is no type of cancer where you shouldn’t choose your best option first for your specific type of disease. In order to get the best first, you have to test first.
The choice of treatment comes down to more than just the effectiveness of a medicine – it can also depend on if and where the cancer has spread, like the brain for example, and the safety, tolerability and convenience of a given therapy. All these factors can help dictate what the best option may be, with the goal of living significantly longer without tumors spreading, while being able to truly live life with lung cancer. The bottom line is that patients should be their own advocates: get tested for the right treatment options, wait for the results and start on the best option first.
Get the Word Out
Do you know someone who has been diagnosed with lung cancer like Mike? This November for Lung Cancer Awareness Month you can help them by raising awareness and spreading the word—everyone can have an impact. Encourage people you know with Lung Cancer to become their own advocate, understand their full diagnosis, and talk to their medical team about what treatment options are right for them. Today Mike is alive and thankful. His remaining left lung only has about a 20% capacity so he’s changed his lifestyle to accommodate the way his body now works but if you ask Mike, he is happy to be here with his family and friends. Now more than ever, there is reason for hope for Mike and all diagnosed with Lung Cancer.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.