FEATURE: Lung Cancer Update
Randall Lanier, M.D., Pulmonologist
Lung cancer is a largely preventable medical condition. It is the most common cancer mortality in both men and women in the world. It is estimated in 2014 more than 224,000 cases will develop and have more than 159,000 deaths. This accounts for more deaths than the three most common cancer cases of colon, breast, and prostate combined. Lung cancer represents approximately 27 percent of all US cancer deaths. Lung cancer will be the largest cancer “killer” over the next 30 years. Twice as many people will be living with lung cancer in 2040 than in 2010. This is mainly due to longer life spans and cancer being more common as we age.
Fortunately for us, lung cancer death rates have begun to decline. Risk factors have not changed much over the years. Smoking is present in 90 percent of all lung cancers diagnosed. Other lung cancer risk factors include radiation, genetics, diet, HIV infection, emphysema, scarring of the lungs, and environmental toxins. Toxins include second hand smoke, asbestos, dust exposure, and radon which is radioactive gas produced by decay of uranium in soil.
Kentucky had the highest lung cancer death rate of any state in 2013. Kentucky also has the highest per capita tobacco use in the United States. Tobacco smoking is responsible for nearly 1 in 5 deaths in general. The smoking rate in the U.S. has dropped by half from 1965 to 2012. At the height of adult U.S. smoking, it was estimated that 42 percent of the population smoked. Now that estimate has dropped to 18.1 percent. However, in developing countries, tobacco consumption is rising at 3.4 percent per year as of 2002. Young adults are the most likely to start smoking with new onset of older smokers showing a marked decline.
Click circles below to see 2013 statistics on lung cancer.