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Why is lung cancer so difficult to treat?

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“When we think about lung cancer, we usually think of it being associated with people who smoke,” says Russell K. Hales, M.D. “But, in fact, non-smoking associated lung cancer is common as well”.  In fact, if non-smoking associated lung cancer were its own category, it would rank in the top ten for cancer related death in the United States.  Lung cancer is the second most common cause of cancer in the United States, and over 220,000 new cases were anticipated to have been diagnosed in 2011 alone.”

Hales is a radiation oncologist at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center on the Johns Hopkins Bayview campus, a lung cancer center of excellence. He warns that lung cancer is an aggressive disease, with more than 157,000 people in the United States dying from it in 2011. And while cases of lung cancer are decreasing over time, that decrease is linked to the drop in smoking in the U.S. in recent years.

“But when we compare lung cancer to other types of-of cancer, such as prostate cancer and colon cancer, lung cancer is still three times more likely to cause death than other common cancers,” Hales notes.  In order to see better outcomes, he says, great innovations in lung cancer research will be needed.

Find out more from Dr. Hales about lung cancer, treatments for it, and innovative new research to help lung cancer patients in the free webinar, Lung Cancer: Serious Treatment for a Serious Cancer.

4 thoughts on “Why is lung cancer so difficult to treat?”

  1. I agree with you.
    Thanks to advances in technology there has been progress in identifying variations in the genes we inherit that contribute to cancer risk, but these tests aren’t yet at a stage where they could be used in the general population, or used to pick out people for whom screening could be an option. We certainly agree with you that there’s an urgent need to find ways to spot cancer early in both smokers and non-smokers.

  2. My dad passed with lung cancer. He stop smoking 10 years before he got lung cancer. I'm a smoker too and afraid I need to quit. But my dad quit to and it still killed him. What are my odds if I stop or try to stop smoking

    1. Sorry for the delay in our response. Here are some general facts for you to consider about lung cancer.

      Eighty to ninety percent of lung cancer patients are or have been smokers. People who have a direct family member (parent, sibling, child) with a history of lung cancer have a significantly increased risk of lung cancer themselves, since we believe there is a genetic component that puts people at risk.

      Once you quit smoking, your risk of lung cancer begins to drop within a few months. After ten years of no smoking, the risk is fifty percent lower compared to continued smokers and risk will continue to decrease with time, but never equals that of a lifelong nonsmoker.

      People exposed to second-hand smoke -- often children of big smokers -- have a twenty to thirty percent increased risk of lung cancer based on second-hand smoke alone.

      Everything that someone can do to decrease their chance of getting lung cancer, they need to do.

  3. I would agree it is the most common cancer as many many people do smoke everyday even if they know they will get that disease, Like it did to my wife she is now treated a lung cancer which is almost a year now. My wife got a Cancer Treatment in India, with the help of Placidway, a medical tourism company. We were referred by this company to Nova Specialty Surgery which is a modern and highly specialized medical center. My wife did not have so much difficulties in undergoing the surgery since the staff were so kind to us and made my wife comfortable.

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