Lung cancer awareness
11/10/2022 by Jon Ebbert, M.D.
Each year in the United States, over 220,000 new cases of lung cancer are diagnosed and 140,000 people die from it. Lung cancer is the leading killer of both men and women. Lung cancer takes more lives than breast, colon and prostate cancer combined.
Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer and is associated with over 90% of all lung cancers. Despite advances in treatment, only 15% of all patients diagnosed with lung cancer will survive five years.
The most effective way to prevent lung cancer is to stop smoking. Quitting smoking is difficult but made easier using a combination of medication and behavioral strategies.
Medications that have been shown to be effective for smoking cessation are nicotine replacement therapy like nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, nasal spray or inhaler; bupropion and varenicline. The nicotine gum, lozenge and patch are available over the counter. The nicotine nasal spray, nicotine inhaler, bupropion and varenicline need to have a written prescription.
Behavioral strategies that help people quit smoking include:
- Picking a quit date.
- Engaging significant others and family members in support around the quit attempt.
- Removing all tobacco products from your environment.
- Understanding cues and triggers and developing strategies to address them.
Resources and tools to help you quit are available on the internet such as smokefree.gov. Ask your clinician about medication and additional counseling that can be obtained through our Nicotine Dependence Center.
If you smoke, lung cancer screening with low dose computed tomography (CT) can reduce your risk of dying from lung cancer. Ask your doctor about lung cancer screening.
Jon Ebbert, M.D., is a physician in Primary Care in Rochester and Kasson's Division of Community Internal Medicine. He is the medical director of Mayo Clinic's Nicotine Dependence Center and chair of Community Internal Medicine's Division of Telehealth where he provides virtual visit care across Southeast Minnesota.