Ever consult with your physicians and leave feeling more confused than you were when you walked into the office? With the cancer experts at Alaska CyberKnife, you’ll feel confident in your knowledge of you lung cancer and the treatment options available to you. Our kind, supportive staff will answer all of your questions and explain every detail of our non-surgical CyberKnife treatment option that is proven effective in treating lung cancer. Below are some of the most commonly asked questions.
Q: WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO DETECT LUNG CANCER EARLY?
If you are at a higher risk of developing lung cancer, your doctor may suggest regular lung cancer screenings. People who are at a higher risk include:
- People who are 55 to 77 years old (or 80 for some private insurers)
- Those who have a minimum 30-pack per year history of smoking
- Those who currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.
However, exposure to low-dose radiation and the potential for false positives are a few of the risks associated with lung cancer screenings that should be discussed with your doctor. Early detection is important to the success of treatment. In a 2011 study, researchers showed that CT scans reduced lung cancer mortality by 20%. Unfortunately, only a small percent of lung cancer cases are discovered early, before the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Medicare and Medicaid services, and many private insurance companies, will pay for yearly screenings for people who are at high risk.
Q: IS THERE ANY WAY TO KNOW IF I HAVE LUNG CANCER?
Many of the symptoms of early lung cancer are the same symptoms that you might have if you had a common cold or a host of other ailments, including cough, fatigue, and headache. This is why lung cancer is often not diagnosed early. Oftentimes, lung cancer is diagnosed when a chest X-ray is ordered to check for some other illness. For later stages of lung cancer, symptoms include:
- Persistent cough that gets worse
- Pneumonia or bronchitis that recurs
- Breathlessness and wheezing
- Repeated chest pain
- Neck and face swelling
- Weight loss or loss of appetite
- Hoarse voice
- Persistent fatigue
- Bone pain
If your doctor thinks you may have lung cancer based on these symptoms, he or she will order a CT scan and X-rays to look for abnormal cell growths in your lungs. To verify that these growths are cancer, a biopsy will usually be performed, along with additional testing. Your Alaska CyberKnife cancer experts will work with your team of medical professionals to develop the best treatment plan for your individual case.
Q: IS IT A GOOD IDEA TO GET A SECOND OPINION FOR MY LUNG CANCER?
Yes. Most doctors highly recommend getting a second opinion of your lung cancer diagnosis. The cancer experts at Alaska CyberKnife Center often give second opinions to patients and offer the added benefit of consulting with your primary oncologists in determining the best treatment options available.
Q: WHAT ARE LUNG CANCER SURVIVAL RATES?
Lung cancer is the deadliest type of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. However, when lung cancer is discovered before it metastasizes to other parts of the body, the survival rates increase dramatically to 55 percent. It is important to remember that every person has his or her own type and severity of lung cancer and can respond to lung cancer treatment in different ways.
Q: DOES SMOKING PUT ME AT A HIGHER RISK FOR LUNG CANCER?
Yes. All research shows that smoking is a serious contributing factor in causing small cell and non-small cell lung cancer. Smoking contributes 80% of lung cancer deaths in women and 90% in men. Men who smoke are 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer. Women are 13 times more likely, compared to people who have never smoked. Between 2005 and 2010, an average of 130,659 Americans died of lung cancer from smoking each year (source: American Cancer Society).
Q: DOES SECONDHAND SMOKE INCREASE MY CHANCE FOR GETTING LUNG CANCER?
Yes. Researchers believe that nonsmokers have a 20% to 30% greater chance of developing lung cancer if they are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work.
Q: WHAT ARE OTHER RISK FACTORS INCREASE MY CHANCE OF GETTING LUNG CANCER?
About 20 percent of lung cancer deaths are caused by a naturally occurring gas called radon. It is produced by decomposing uranium in the earth. This tasteless, odorless gas, is the second-leading cause of lung cancer and often combines with smoking to increase risk even more. Lung cancer risks can also increase for those who are exposed at work to asbestos, uranium, and coke (a fuel made from coal). The combination of asbestos exposure and smoking greatly increases the risk of developing lung cancer.
Q: HOW IS LUNG CANCER TREATED?
There are several treatments for lung cancer including surgery, chemotherapy, and a variety of radiation therapies. The treatment options vary depending on your type and stage of lung cancer. Alaska CyberKnife Center offers a clinically-proven effective, non-surgical method of treating lung cancer. The special technology tracks your tumor as it moves as you breath for the highest precision available. Visit our Treatment page for details about how CyberKnife can figure into your lung cancer treatment.
Q: ARE THERE SIDE EFFECTS FROM RADIATION THERAPY FOR MY LUNG CANCER?
High doses of radiation are used to kill cancer cells during cancer treatment. This radiation can also affect surrounding tissue and organs. Because of the advanced technology at Alaska CyberKnife Center, the damage to surrounding tissue is greatly minimized, giving you fewer side effects. However, general side effects from radiation include fatigue and skin irritations (itching, peeling, dryness, redness) at the site of the radiation. Side effects from lung cancer radiation treatment may (though unlikely) also include difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath and fibrosis (scarring of the lungs).
WE’RE WAITING FOR YOUR CALL!
The Anchorage team of cancer experts are waiting to answer any further questions you have or to discuss in more detail your specific lung cancer type and treatment options. You can reach out to us by phone at (907) 312-2112 or by using our handy online appointment form. We’ll make sure you understand all aspects of the treatments available to you so you can make the most knowledgeable decisions about your treatment plan. Your first phone consultation is free, so don’t hesitate to give us a call today!
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