Letter: Early lung cancer often curable

It’s time for a wake-up call, Louisiana. Lung cancer, one of the most deadly but rarely talked about diseases, is the most common cause of cancer death in our state. Because this disease is often detected and diagnosed at later stages, it makes treatment difficult or impossible because the cancer has already spread to other parts of the body.

The good news about lung cancer is that there is an excellent chance for a cure if the cancer is detected early and can be surgically removed. This means many peoples’ lives can be saved if cancer is detected before reaching advanced stages. And now there are scans that can precisely detect lung cancer at its earliest stages, allowing for treatments to begin earlier. Mary Bird Perkins’ Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center’s Lung Cancer Multidisciplinary Care Team (Lung MDC Team) of cancer experts recommends that screening is the best way to improve outcomes for lung cancer patients, especially those at high risk.

The Lung MDC Team’s recommendation is in line with the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Clinical Practice Guidelines for lung cancer screening. NCCN classifies high-risk individuals as smokers and former smokers over 55 years old with a smoking history of 30 or more pack-years (number of packs smoked per day multiplied by the number of years) and directs these individuals to obtain a lung cancer screening. Additionally, people who are age 50 or older with a smoking history of 20 or more pack-years and one additional risk factor (not including secondhand smoke) radon exposure, occupational exposure (carcinogens, asbestos), cancer history, family history of lung cancer or disease history (COPD or pulmonary fibrosis) should also be screened for lung cancer as a high-risk patient.

Each year, November marks National Lung Cancer Awareness Month and brings with it greater awareness, as well as important information on prevention, early detection and treatment options. It’s a great time of the year to talk to loved ones who are at high risk for lung cancer about getting screened. If you believe you are at high risk, get screened and know for sure. If you are unsure whether you are a high-risk individual, please consult your doctor.

For more information on lung cancer screenings, please visit www.marybird.org or call (225) 215-1515.

Dr. Brad Vincent

Mary Bird Perkins’ Our Lady of the Lake
Cancer Center Lung Cancer
Multidisciplinary Care Team

Baton Rouge