Don’t ignore that little cough



Dear Editor:

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. I intended to write then. January is Radon Awareness Month. I planned to write then. Radon, second leading cause of lung cancer. In March, I did write. Now I write again because over 86,000 Americans have died of lung cancer since November. Lung cancer, the deadliest cancer, accounts for 27 percent of all U.S. cancer deaths, 433 dying every day. This is a national emergency. You only need lungs to get lung cancer.

Genomic testing, immunotherapy and targeted therapy drugs are changing this grim outlook. Research funds are desperately needed. This number one cancer killer receives far less federal research funding per life lost than other major cancers (lungevity.org). Help by urging our representatives to support research funding legislation. Visit lung.org to read “State of Lung Cancer” for Maine statistics.

Every breathing person should know:

  1. If you have lungs, you can get lung cancer. The stigma associated with lung cancer and smoking affects lung cancer education and research funding. It also causes us to ignore the subtle symptoms, leading to many being diagnosed only when the cancer is metastatic.
  2. Lung cancer kills more women yearly than breast, uterine and ovarian cancer combined. For more information about lung cancer patient support and advocacy visit the Bonnie Addario Lung Cancer Foundation(org).
  3. When you have a tumor biopsy, ask for genomic testing. If a cell mutation, a genetic driver, is found, your oncology team may be able to treat your cancer with a targeted therapy, instead of the cancer with a more general treatment plan.
  4. Don’t be afraid of clinical trials. This field of research is progressing rapidly. Participating in research gives one hope, for oneself and the future.
  5. Cancer (any chronic disease) affects more than the patient. It seems unavoidable that it takes an incredible toll, financially and more so emotionally, on the entire family. Programs like the Beth Wright Cancer Resource Center’s (bethwrightcancercenter.org) caregiver support groups are important and appreciated.
  6. Testing your home for radon is easy and inexpensive.

Please, don’t ignore that persistent little cough. If you breathe, you can get lung cancer.

 

Corinne C. Pert

Blue Hill