Quitting Smoking is Best Medicine Against Lung Cancer

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month
Published on Nov 17, 2021

November is recognized as National Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s important to understand that smoking is the primary cause of this potentially deadly, but often preventable disease.

Lung Cancer is the leading cancer killer of both men and women in the U.S. every year, according to Lung Cancer Foundation of America. In fact, lung cancer kills more people annually than breast, prostate and colorectal cancer combined.

“If you or a loved one is a smoker, you should consider getting screened for lung cancer as that will help your doctor look for a problem before you have symptoms, and that could save your life,” said Dr. Rashmi Menon, a medical oncologist with Kaiser Permanente Southern California. “Since not all smokers require screening, and it’s based on age and smoking history, it may be best to check with you doctor to see if you’re recommended for screening.”

The American Cancer Society estimates about 235,760 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2021, nearly equally divided among men and women. Additionally, it’s estimated the disease will claim the lives of about 131,880 individuals.

While smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, Black men – who tend to smoke in larger numbers  – are about 15% more likely to develop lung cancer than white men.

“If you smoke, quitting can significantly lower your risk of acquiring lung cancer,” Dr. Menon said. “Even if you’ve smoked for a long time, it’s never too late to quit to improve your health. And, if you already have lung cancer, quitting will help make your treatment work better.”

How does lung cancer begin?
Lung cancer starts when abnormal cells grow out of control in the lung, and they can also spread to nearby tissues and form tumors. Lung cancer can develop anywhere in the lungs and affect any part of the respiratory system.

What are the symptoms?
The first signs of lung cancer may include:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Feeling short-of-breath
  • Chest pain
  • Having blood in mucus that you cough up

If you’re a smoker thinking about quitting, Kaiser Permanente offers valuable information that can help you personalize a plan to stop smoking.


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