November is Lung Cancer Month: Know the Latest Information About This Deadliest of CancersLung cancer is the world's most common cancer, and an estimated 219,440 Americans are expected to be diagnosed this year.

  1. It is also estimated that lung cancer will cause 159,000 deaths in the United States this year – more than the total number of deaths resulting from breast, colon and prostate cancers combined. Still, lung cancer lags far behind other cancers in both awareness and research funding, and, partly due to its connection with smoking, there can be a stigma attached to the disease.
  2. But there is hope for lung cancer patients. According to Richard Gaynor, M.D., vice president of oncology product development and medical affairs at Eli Lilly and Company, a leader in thoracic cancer treatment, "Researchers have made important strides in the last decade in lung cancer prevention, detection and treatment. We know that secondary smoke is detrimental.
  3. We have better X-rays and spiral CT scans to detect lung cancer earlier on. And we know that where treatment is concerned, lung cancer, like breast cancer, can benefit from a tailored approach." In the past, oncologists have used similar approaches to treatment based on lung cancer diagnosis, staging and prognosis.
  4. But advances in tailored treatment options may help oncologists choose which patients could be more likely to benefit from certain therapies. "While our work is far from finished, we do have a better understanding of lung cancer today, and patients can benefit," said Dr. Gaynor.
    Prevalence and Prognosis
    Lung cancer can affect any adult, including nonsmokers. Since 1985, it has risen to be the world's most common form of cancer, and an estimated 219,440 more Americans are expected to be diagnosed this year.
  5. The chance that a man will develop lung cancer is about 1 in 13, and for a woman it is approximately 1 in 16.(1) Nearly 70 percent of people diagnosed with lung cancer are older than 65; fewer than three percent of all cases are found in people under the age of 45.
  6. Survival is improved the earlier a patient is diagnosed with lung cancer. With early detection, there is a 50 percent chance of surviving for five years. However, only 16 percent of cases are diagnosed at an early stage. Unfortunately, as the disease is often diagnosed at later stages, approximately 59 percent of those with lung cancer will die within the first year of diagnosis.
  7. The five-year survival rate for lung cancer has increased slightly over the last 30 years. In the mid-1970s the rate was 13 percent, as compared to the latest statistics which find the rate at 15.6 percent for the years 1999 – 2006.
  8. Symptoms
    In the early stages of the disease, many people have vague or no symptoms. Persistent cough along with blood in the phlegm and shortness of breath are common symptoms of lung cancer. Sometimes, symptoms may seem unrelated to the lungs or breathing. As lung cancer is diagnosed mostly in later stages, the primary cancer may have already spread to other parts of the body. Depending upon where the cancer spreads and which organs are affected, symptoms may also include headaches, weakness of a limb, bone pain, weight loss and loss of appetite.