Raising Lung Cancer Awareness in the Triad

Lung Cancer Awareness Month may be over but lung cancer affects families in the Triad all year long. This often-preventable disease is one of the most common cancers among both men and women. Understanding common risk factors, preventive measures to lower your risk and the importance of early detection is key.

Risk Factors

• Smoking
According to the American Lung Association, smoking is thought to be responsible for up to 90% of lung cancer deaths, and secondhand smoke is estimated to cause 7,000 deaths per year. The longer someone smokes and the more cigarettes they consume on a daily basis, the more likely they are to get lung cancer. Pipe smoke and cigar smoke are almost as likely to cause lung cancer as cigarettes. For resources to help quit smoking, please visit
the American Cancer Society’s Guide to Quitting Smoking.

• Family History
According to Lung Cancer Alliance, adults with an immediate parent or sibling diagnosed with lung cancer, especially before the age of 50, have a higher risk of diagnosis. This risk is increased even more when multiple family members are diagnosed, according to Lungevity.

• Exposure to Radon
The US Environmental Protection Agency has identified radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas, as the second leading cause of lung cancer. This tasteless, odorless gas is typically harmless outside, but when inhaled inside it can greatly increase a person’s risk of getting lung cancer. You can test your home for radon with a do-it-yourself test kit, or you can hire a professional.

• Beta Carotene Supplements
According to the American Cancer Society, recent research has been conducted to study the role of supplements in reducing lung cancer, but the reverse was actually found with beta carotene supplements. Two of these major studies indicated that smokers who took beta carotene had an even higher risk of lung cancer. This has led some professionals to recommend that smokers avoid taking this supplement.

Other notable risk factors include:
• Exposure to asbestos
• Air pollution
• Age

Early Detection with Lung Cancer CT Screening

Lung cancer can be difficult to cure and typically tends to be widespread by the time it is detected. With that in mind, we recommend that adults 55–80 years old who have a history of smoking receive an annual screening. At DRI, our doctors use computerized tomography (CT) scanning to give our physicians access to clear detailed images of the chest and lungs at a more affordable price. The CT scan uses an ultra-thin, low dose X-ray beam that allows less exposure to radiation than a traditional X-ray. Lung cancer CT screening can detect cancers that may not be visible with traditional testing, and as a result, eliminate the need for exploratory surgery. Our dedicated radiologists are committed to helping families in our area detect lung cancer early before it can spread to other parts of the body.

Think you or a family member may be at risk? To learn more or schedule an appointment, please give us a call at (336) 433-5000.

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