Mortality rate is staggering for lung cancer

My patients always give me the wrong answer when I ask them, “What cancer kills women more than any other malignancy?” Most say, “Breast cancer.”

But lung cancer kills more women than breast and colon/rectal cancer combined. But there’s hope for both sexes.

Unfortunately, there’s an interesting, recurrent, yet depressing reaction particularly for non-smokers who develop lung cancer. When told that someone has breast cancer there’s always a sympathetic ear.

But when informed a person has lung cancer, sure as night follows day, the first, quick response is “Was he or she a smoker?” It’s a remark that puts an unfair stigma on non-smokers.

It happened to the widow of Christopher Reeves (Superman). She developed lung cancer but never smoked. It was a tragic label for a wife who had dedicated so many years to helping her stricken husband.

This year another 110,000 men and 90,000 North American women will die of this disease. Of this number 10% of men and 20% of women have never smoked.

One would think that if smokers looked at the carnage, they would do everything in their power to stop smoking. Breast cancer patients have an 85% chance of being alive in five years. Those treated for lung cancer have an 85% chance of being dead. And 10 years after breast cancer treatment, patients are four times more likely to have survived.

Why non-smokers develop this malignancy is not known. A Swedish study found an increase in lung cancer in those exposed to residential radon gas, a breakdown product of uranium. But other studies have not been able to duplicate this result.

Other researchers link lung cancer to scarring that occurs with recurrent bouts of pneumonia, tuberculosis and other illnesses. Still more associate this malignancy with atmospheric exposure to a variety of products.

What about genetics? Iceland’s remote location has resulted in a national genealogy database unique to that country. This has allowed researchers to trace connections between families since the settlement of the country, particularly in a study of 2,756 patients diagnosed with lung cancer between the years 1955 to 2002.

The study concluded that lung cancer appears to run in certain families. In fact, the report from the Landspitali-University Hospital in Reykjavik, says the risk also extends to relatives beyond the immediate family. So aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews still run a risk, but at lower levels than the immediate family.

But the Icelandic study stressed that although genetics appears to play a role in developing lung cancer, tobacco smoke plays the dominant role.

The news is depressing as I write, since there’s precious little to say at the moment about improving the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer. The mortality figures tell the story. In spite of high-tech CT scans and MRIs, smokers will continue to die unless they toss away tobacco, a foolish, irrational habit.

If the smoker accomplishes this task then the news is all good. Within minutes of a final cigarette, the body begins a series of recuperative changes that continue on and on. For instance, 20 minutes after the final puff, blood pressure falls, heart rate decreases and body temperature of hands and feet increases to normal.

Look ahead another eight hours and the blood level of carbon monoxide drops to normal and oxygen level becomes normal. After 24 hours the risk of coronary attack decreases. And after 48 hours nerve endings start working again to improve smell and taste.

During the next three months circulation improves, and as lung function increases up to 30%, walking becomes easier. Former smokers also notice that within one to nine months there’s less coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, shortness of breath and more energy.

Just one year later the risk of coronary attack has decreased by an amazing 50%. And in 10 years the chance of developing lung cancer is similar to that of a non-smoker.

These numbers are better odds than at Las Vegas. Surely, any sane person would toss cigarettes away.

See the web site at www.docgiff.com. For comments, info@docgiff.com.

Just Posted

Alberta Election called for April 16th

Upcoming election will be about who is fit to be Premier, says Notley

Red Deer athletes qualify for Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru

The official Pan American Games will be held from July 26th to Aug. 11th

Local youngsters lend a helping hand to the Red Deer Hospital

First Steps and Beyond School students donate to Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Red Deer RCMP arrest man during break and enter in progress

RCMP found two males in the parking garage attempting to steal a vehicle

Red Deer RCMP announce new Officer in Charge

Grobmeier has 26 years of service with the RCMP where he has moved through the ranks across Canada

Five highlights in the 2019 federal budget

Latest budget includes a sprinkling of money for voters across a wide spectrum

2019 BUDGET: As deficit grows, feds spend on job retraining, home incentives

Stronger economy last year delivered unexpected revenue bump of an extra $27.8 billion over six years

Newfoundland man caught after posting photo of himself drinking and driving

The 19-year-old took a photo of himself holding a beer bottle and cigarette while at the wheel

Here are five political leaders campaigning in Alberta’s spring election

Rachel Notley, Jason Kenney, Stephen Mandel, David Khan, and Derek Fildebrandt

UPDATE Leduc RCMP say sexual assault claim was false

UPDATE Leduc RCMP say investigation revealed sexual assault never took place

Fought to unite Alberta conservatives: Former MP Kenney ready to run for premier

Kenney, 50, was born in Oakville, Ont., raised in Saskatchewan, and spent his adult years in Alberta

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley wants chance to ‘finish that job’

Notley, 54, is the daughter of the late Grant Notley, who led the NDP from 1968 to 1984

PHOTOS: Massive fire at Wetaskiwin’s Rigger’s Hotel

Multiple fire departments involved, building badly damaged

Alberta government announces further easing of oil production restrictions

The government said it will continue to monitor the market and its response to the increases

Most Read