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.
When I was a kid one of my favorite things to do each Sunday was go with my family to my Grandpop’s house. He and my Dad had a rocky relationship throughout my Dad’s childhood, but fortunately they rekindled it after my sister and I came along. I always looked forward to spending quality time plus our Sunday dinners.
Then one Sunday they just stopped.
Weeks went by and we didn’t hear from my Grandpop. We later found out he was trying to spare us the heartache of knowing he had developed lung cancer. My Grandpop passed away within 6 short weeks of getting diagnosed with this disease. Ever since then I have tried to learn all I can about lung cancer, while also sharing about his life, especially with my teenage son lately.
I want to share with you what you need to know about Lung Cancer Awareness Month.
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.
Stages of lung cancer:
Lung cancer stage is determined by tumor size and whether it has spread to nearby areas, lymph nodes, or other organs. Some of these stages have unique names, which can sometimes make understanding the types of lung cancer confusing.
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.
There are a lot of misperceptions about lung cancer, particularly in grouping Stage 3 cancer with Stage 4 cancer.
Stage 4 NSCLC is called “metastatic” and occurs when the disease has spread to distant parts of the chest or to other organs, such as the brain, bones or liver.
Stage 3 is different—it is an earlier stage of disease with better long-term survival rates. Typically, the earlier we treat disease, the better outcomes we have.
About 1 out of every 4 people diagnosed with NSCLC – more than 43,000 cases each year in the US – are diagnosed with Stage 3. And most people who are diagnosed with Stage 3 NSCLC have tumors that are determined to be “unresectable,” meaning they cannot be removed surgically.
Historically, the standard treatment path for unresectable Stage 3 NSCLC was concurrent chemoradiation therapy. After approximately 6 weeks, the treatment would typically stop, and the cancer would be monitored to see if it would spread to other organs. Although most patients initially benefit from chemoradiation therapy, up to 9 out of 10 patients would ultimately progress to Stage 4 – meaning the cancer would spread.
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.
Do you know anyone who has been diagnosed with lung cancer? Let them know there is reason to be hopeful.
I wish I could’ve done this for my Grandpop, but please let tell them it is critical that they are their own advocate, understand their diagnosis and communicate with their medical team about personalized treatment options.
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and I would appreciate it if you would join me in spreading the word. Please visit LIVE W.E.L.L. (https://clvr.li/livewells3) and LVNG With Lung Cancer (https://clvr.li/lvngwlc) for more information.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.