Lung Cancer: The Latino Response
Story By: Chriss Swaney
Messages regarding caner prevention and early detection have permeated the media and garnered quite a bit of attention and public concern, but the reality is that the messages do not seem to have resonated enough for us to see a shift in the behavior of our hispanic community
CANCER IS THE LEADING cause of death in Hispanics. According to a 2015 study conducted by the American Cancer Society (ACS), lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer deaths among Hispanic men and the second leading cause of cancer deaths among Hispanic women. This data points to the sobering conclusion that lung cancer is one of the deadliest diseases today and our Hispanic community should be informed.
The good news is that when detected early, treatment options for lung cancer are greatly increased. There are also many preventative measures that can be easily integrated into daily routines.
Patricia Rich, MD, Medical Oncology Director, Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) Lung Cancer Institute, stresses the importance of staying vigilant and encourages individuals to take it upon themselves to prevent the development of lung cancer.
Dr. Rich also points out that 80 percent of all lung cancer cases are caused by smoking. No one knows this better than Jeffrey McDermott, a lung cancer survivor.
“I can’t thank CTCA® enough. They gave me my life back,’’ says McDermott, a lifelong smoker. “I had this nagging cough that just wouldn’t go away, and if I hadn’t gone to CTCA, I probably would never have found out that I had stage 4 lung cancer,’’ he recalls. McDermott, 58, is just one of the more than 220,500 patients diagnosed with lung cancer in the U.S. every year (ACS).
To avoid the onset of lung cancer, Dr. Rich recommends taking control of your health and surroundings. For those who smoke, quit. For those who don’t smoke, take precautionary measures to avoid secondhand smoke. That may mean staying clear of smoking areas or refusing to congregate with others while they smoke. Other important lifestyle habits to implement include maintaining a diet with an abundance of fruits and vegetables, getting adequate sleep, monitoring family health history and adopting an active lifestyle.
“The other challenge is that most lung cancer cases are now being diagnosed at later stages,’’ says Dr. Rich. She strongly advises the Hispanic community to speak with their families and physicians, and get screened if they experience persistent coughs, shortness of breath, blood in cough and sudden weight loss.
Along with her role at CTCA, Dr. Rich is also a member of the American Lung Association’s Lung Cancer Expert Medical Advisory Panel. This panel provides strategic advice on critical lung cancer research and lung cancer treatment issues. CTCA, alongside the American Lung Association, has continued to work on creating lung cancer awareness through programs such as LUNG FORCE that educate the public.
The larger goal in mind for Dr. Rich and CTCA is to change behavior. Through education, early detection and voices willing to share this imperative information, we can work together in the movement against lung cancer. With more awareness and powerful success stories, like that of McDermott, we can begin to achieve this vision for tomorrow.
“I’m forever grateful to CTCA. I feel great and am even enjoying cooking again. I plan to retire early and take a road trip across this great country, breathing deeply,” says McDermott.
For more information, visit www.cancercenter.com