Confident in the Fight Against Lung Cancer

Dr. Joseph Costic, Thoracic Surgeon, at Deborah Heart & Lung Center

KYW Staff
September 25, 2019 - 6:02 pm

Lung cancer is still the top cancer killer of both men and women in the U.S. The disease is expected to take almost 160,000 lives in 2019 — about 27% of all cancer deaths in the United States, according to the Lung Cancer Foundation of America. The American Lung Association puts it another way:  lung cancer kills 391 people every day -- about 16 people every hour.

But we got a rare nugget of good news on the lung cancer front over the summer: new research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that lung cancer deaths have dropped a promising 11.5% since 2013. That’s coincidentally the same year that the US Preventive Services Task Force recommended annual low-dose CT screenings for adults with certain lung-cancer risk factors:

  • You are 55 to 80 years old
  • A current smoker or quit smoking less than 15 years ago
  • Have a “30-pack-year” smoking history (1 pack/day for 30 years or 2 packs/day for 15 years, etc.)

 “Smoking has been causally indicted in lung cancer in up to 90% of the cases and unfortunately that also includes secondhand smoke, “ says Dr. Joseph Costic, Thoracic Surgeon, at Deborah Heart & Lung Center. “So anybody with persistent lung symptoms AND a history of smoking, lung cancer must be first on our radar.”

As with any cancer, early detection is key, and lung cancer is notorious for presenting symptoms that are often confused with a less dire issue. Any new, persistent lung symptoms such as a cough, chest pain that’s worse with deep breathing or even laughing, shortness of breath, wheezing with ANY exposure to smoking, should send you for a checkup sooner rather than later.

For patients, Deborah offers more good news: Dr. Costic is now performing minimally-invasive video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS), to biopsy and remove lung cancer tumors as one of the treatment modalities in its Multi-Disciplinary Oncology Clinic Program.

Go to DemandDeborah.org to see if you qualify for a Low-Dose CT Lung Cancer Screening.