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November: Lung Cancer Awareness and Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

Combined, lung and pancreatic cancers affect nearly 275,000 people in America each year1,3. Nearly 225,0001 of those cases are cancers of the lung. Lung and pancreatic cancer awareness is promoted each November and Supplementally Speaking looked into recent statistics, prevention and research and development for both diseases.

Lung Cancer

Stats. As the second most common cancer occurring in men and women, about 14 percent of new cancers are lung cancers1. While it is a disease that most commonly afflicts older people, one of three diagnosed is under the age of 651. Many factors impact risk of developing the disease: men, African Americans and a history of smoking all increase a person’s chances1. Once diagnosed, prognosis depends on the stage at the time of diagnosis.

Prevention. The best ways to decrease risk of lung cancer is to stop smoking, avoid air pollution and limit exposure to radon, asbestos and chemicals like uranium and arsenic. Visit the American Cancer Society’s website for a comprehensive list link opens in a new window of chemicals linked to lung cancer. While the connection between marijuana smoking or talcum powder and lung cancer is not yet clear, studies are underway.

R & D. Smoking has such a strong link to lung cancer that research continues to develop the most effective ways to help people kick the habit for good and prevent young people from ever starting. Screening methods are continuously being studied to promote earlier detection, with some diagnostic tests, like fluorescence bronchoscopy, virtual bronchoscopy and electromagnetic navigation bronchoscopy showing promise. Targeted drugs are being used for some types of lung cancers and being studied for others, with hopes of determining which drugs will work best for which patients. Vaccinations that improve the body’s immune response are in clinical trials as well and may help treat the disease, not prevent it.

Pancreatic Cancer

Stats. About 1 in 65 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer during their lifetimes3. Factors that increase risk include smoking, obesity and chemical exposure. Almost all pancreatic cancer cases occur in people older than 45 and men are slightly more likely than women to develop the disease3. The stage at diagnosis for this disease with few warning signs determines survival rates.

Prevention. A healthy lifestyle free of smoking and chemical exposure can help decrease risk. Maintaining a healthy body weight is important as well, as obese people are 20 percent more likely to develop the disease4.

R & D. Early detection is critical for survival; so much research focuses on genetic markers or changes that indicate precancerous signs. Additional research is focused on groups of proteins found in the blood as another method of early detection. Similar to lung cancer research developments, targeted medicines and vaccinations may also help determine the best course of treatment. 

When it comes to cancer, knowledge is power and understanding prevention and risk factors is the key to early diagnosis with both lung and pancreatic cancer. Be prepared with knowledge, but also with the coverage that will help your family through challenging times should an unexpected diagnosis occur. Combined Insurance’s Cancer Care Protector can help you take care of loved ones when facing cancer, so you can focus on treatment and recovery.

References: opens in a new window opens in a new window opens in a new window opens in a new window