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Lung Cancer

Leah Sarich | posted Wednesday, Jan 21st, 2015

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Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in women and men in Canada, that’s 20 thousand deaths every year in this country. And 80 to 85 percent of cases are directly linked to smoking. This known link is why, for National Non Smoking week, we’re looking at the connection between smoking and lung cancer.

Dr. Alain Tremblay the Co-Chair of the Alberta Thoracic Oncology Program hopes no one takes up the deadly habit and that those who are smoking get the help they need to quit as soon as possible. Dr. Tremblay says lung tissue simply doesn’t regenerate or heal well. He explains, “if you quit 10 years ago, you’ve dropped your risk for lung cancer by half, but your lungs never return to normal.”

So, Dr. Tremblay says a smoker or ex-smoker who has any change in chest symptoms, like a cough that doesn’t go away, or coughing up blood, or more shortness of breath should see their family doctor right away to ask for an X-ray. However, doctors can’t say those with no symptoms get X-rays as a form of screening. A screening program does not exist yet in Alberta. But they’re working on it.

Dr. Tremblay says a study starting in April will screen 800 people at risk of lung cancer. This screening will help researchers understand who best to screen, how to analyze screening results, how much a screening program will cost and so on. The study will run for five years and hopefully at the end of it, doctors will have the information they need to help establish a screening program for lung cancer in Alberta.

Until then, Dr. Tremblay encourages any smokers to quit as soon as possible. He suggests visiting the Alberta Quits website. He says overcoming a nicotine addiction is very challenging and it’s very difficult to do on your own. This website will help smokers get the tools they need to move forward with their smoking cessation plan…the first step at reducing your risk for lung cancer.

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