By Josefa Paganuzzi, Thompson & Bender for NYP-Lawrence Hospital
Nov. 11, 2020: Every three and a half minutes, someone in the United States will die from lung cancer, accounting for one in four cancer deaths.
During November, the oncology staff at NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital in Bronxville is observing Lung Cancer Awareness Month as part of an international effort to help increase awareness of prevention, causes, and treatments of lung cancer.
“Our lung cancer program was designated a Center of Excellence by the GO2 Foundation—the first hospital in New York to achieve this honor,” said Dr. Stephanie Smith-Marrone, a NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital oncologist with a particular expertise in the treatment of lung cancer and head and neck malignancy. “By collaborating with renowned specialists at NewYork-Presbyterian/CUMC, our experts offer access to clinical trials and the latest treatment advancements such as immunotherapy and targeted therapies.
The hopeful news about lung cancer is that the survival rate of people who are still alive five years after being diagnosed is improving. According to the American Lung Association’s 2019 “State of Lung Cancer” report, the national survival rate was 21.7 percent, up from 17.2 percent a decade earlier.
The rising survival rate is due to two factors—earlier detection and advancements in lung cancer research and treatment options, both of which are specialties of NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital.
Dr. Smith-Marrone is the Director of Cancer Clinical Trials at NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital. Her patients often have access to clinical trials that have resulted in the approval of new immunotherapies and targeted therapies.
“Our clinical trial program provides patients with access to the cutting-edge science that is giving them hope,” said Dr. Smith-Marrone.
Those most at risk from lung cancer are former and current smokers. If you are a smoker, ex-smoker, or live with someone who smokes, you should consider the following simple steps to ensure lung health:
-Get a lung cancer screening. If you are between 55 and 80 years of age and have smoked one pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years and currently smoke or quit less than 15 years ago, ask your doctor about low dose CT lung cancer screening. Less than 4 percent of the high-risk lung cancer population gets the CT screening that can detect lung cancers in their earlier stages when there is a better chance of cure. At NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital, low-dose CT scanning is available to people with an increased risk of lung cancer due to age and smoking history.
-Stop smoking! Cigarette smoking is the major cause of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which encompasses chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Over time, cigarette smoke destroys lung tissue and may trigger changes that grow into cancer. Ending the use of tobacco can be a challenge, but with the proper support, it is possible to achieve this goal.
-Consume a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. A recent Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study shows that a higher intake of antioxidant- and flavonoid-rich fruits, like apples and tomatoes, was associated with a slower decline in lung function, especially among ex-smokers. Eating about four servings of fruit per day can help support the long-term health of your lungs.
-Exercise more. Aerobic exercise can improve lung capacity, meaning the amount of oxygen inhaled with each breath. Exercise should include some resistance workouts, such as going uphill during your daily walk or using the interval setting when running on the treadmill.
-Get a flu shot. Respiratory infections can become very serious quickly. Incorporate small habits into everyday life, such frequent hand washing, brushing teeth twice a day, and avoiding crowds during cold and flu season.
Pictured: Dr. Smith-Marrone
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