As the second-most common cancer in both men and women, lung cancer is responsible for the majority of cancer-related deaths. The American Cancer Society estimates more than 160,000 people will lose their battle with lung cancer this year, accounting for more victims than breast, prostate, colon and pancreatic cancers combined.
In recognition of National Lung Cancer Awareness Month in November, Illinois CyberKnife encourages local residents to take preventive steps to protect themselves and their loved ones from common and lesser-known causes of lung cancer.
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While smoking may be the leading cause of lung cancer, other risk factors should not be ignored. These include secondhand smoke, radon or asbestos exposure in the home or workplace and family history.
According to a recent study published by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Surgeon General, radon exposure was reported to be the second leading cause of lung cancer. As residents spend more time in their homes in the coming winter months, it's important for homeowners to monitor the radon levels in their homes.
"Taking time to educate yourself on the risks and symptoms of lung cancer is an important step in the prevention and early detection of the disease," explains Dr. Arica Hirsch, Illinois CyberKnife medical director.
Unlike many of the risk factors of other common cancers, lung cancer's biggest risk factor -- tobacco use -- can be controlled. Estimates from the American Cancer Society suggest as much as 90 percent of all instances of the disease are attributable to tobacco use. Smokers who quit can reduce their risk of developing lung cancer by up to 70 percent, according to the International Agency of Research on Cancer.
If you've considered talking with a friend or loved one who smokes, Lung Cancer Awareness Month is a great conversation starter. It's also a great time to talk to those already suffering with lung cancer about their treatment options. Illinois CyberKnife, a service of Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, treats lung cancer with noninvasive radiosurgery that has key advantages.
Standard treatment for lung cancer involves surgically removing all or part of the patient's affected lung. That may not be viable, however, especially for patients in poor general health or those suffering from chronic pulmonary disease like emphysema.
Recent advancements in cancer treatment have introduced another option for those seeking an alternative to surgery or patients with tumors deemed medically inoperable. CyberKnife® offers an effective treatment option for lung cancer patients who are not surgical candidates or refuse surgery due to the associated risk of complications.
While the name may conjure images of knives and scalpels, CyberKnife treatment involves no cutting, no anesthesia and no overnight hospital stay. Lung tumors are treated noninvasively with very precise, high-dose radiation beams while healthy tissue surrounding a tumor is spared. CyberKnife treatment is completed in five or fewer outpatient procedures. With few or no side effects, patients typically return immediately to their normal routines.
"Take the opportunity during Lung Cancer Awareness Month to reach out. Talk to friends or family who smoke about a smoking cessation program, and encourage those facing a lung cancer diagnosis to learn more about treatment options like CyberKnife," Dr. Hirsch said.
Illinois CyberKnife is a department of Advocate Lutheran General Hospital and is located at 1700 Luther Lane, Suite 1110, Park Ridge, Ill. 60068. For more information, call (847) 723-0100 or visit www.IllinoisCK.com.