Lung Cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in both men and women in Kentucky and the United States. It exceeds deaths from breast, colon and prostate cancers combined. Kentucky leads the nation in the percentage of new cases of lung cancer diagnosed per year.

Greater than 80% of patients die from the disease after being diagnosed with lung cancer. In 2009 there were 3,250 deaths from lung cancer in Kentucky. There were 4,600 new cases diagnosed in Kentucky in 2009.

The causes of lung cancer are varied but the #1 risk factor for lung cancer is CIGARETTE SMOKING! Eighty percent of ALL lung cancers occur in smokers. Kentucky leads the nation in the percentage of smokers and percentage of lung cancer deaths. Other risk factors include second hand smoke, air pollution, asbestos exposure with smoking, radon gas and genetic factors.

There are several types of lung cancer but most are grouped into two categories; non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. The prognosis or life expectancy for small cell lung cancer is extremely poor. The chances of being alive (prognosis) 5 years after diagnosis of most types of lung cancer is less than 20%.

There are 4 stages of lung cancer with Stage 1 having the best prognosis and Stage 4 the worst prognosis. Obviously if the lung cancer can be diagnosed and surgically removed at an early stage the chances of survival are dramatically improved. Stage 1, 60-80% survival at 5 years and Stage 2, 40-60% survival at 5 years.

Most patients with lung cancer have symptoms such as coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath, weight loss, hoarseness, weakness, feeling tired or loss of appetite.

The diagnosis of lung cancer often requires various types of x-rays to include chest x-rays, CAT scans and PET scans. In addition to x-rays various types of biopsies and surgical procedures are often required for diagnosis and treatment.

The treatment options for lung cancer involve surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Surgical resection of the cancerous tumor is the most effective treatment for stage 1 and 2 non-small cell lung cancers. Unfortunately only approximately one out of four patients (25%) are candidates for surgical resection.

The majority (80%) of lung cancers are preventable. DO NOT start smoking and if you smoke, STOP smoking. The risk of smoking related lung cancers increases with the number of packs of cigarettes per day and the number of years smoking. Nicotine in tobacco is a powerfully addictive drug and smoking cessation is difficult. Dying of lung cancer is even more difficult.

The early detection of lung cancer has been shown to reduce the number of deaths due to lung cancer. CAT scans in smokers and ex-smokers in their fifties to seventies is the most effective screening tool available. If you are a smoker or ex-smoker you are at risk for lung cancer.

Help is available in your community of Frankfort. Frankfort Regional Medical Center (FRMC) offers Cooper Clayton Smoking Cessation classes. The hospital has recently been certified as a Community Cancer Center by the American College of Surgeons, Committee on Cancer. Our cancer program is also affiliated with UK-Markey Cancer Center which recently obtained a National Cancer Institute cancer center designation. Dr. Mark Evers, Director of UK Markey Cancer Center, recently stated; “Since Frankfort Regional Medical Center joined the Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network in 2011, they have been focused on achieving Commission on Cancer status.” “It is the standard by which we measure our affiliate’s performance. It shows that the hospital administration, area physicians and support staff are committed to offering high-quality, multidisciplinary care to their patients. Attaining this status in two years is truly an outstanding accomplishment.”

The Surgeons, Medical Oncologists, Radiation Oncologists, Radiologists, Pulmonologists and other Physicians in Frankfort as well as Frankfort Regional Medical Center are committed to providing state of the art, high-quality care to our patients with lung cancer as well as other types of cancer. For more information on cancer care close to home you can contact “Consult a Nurse” at FRMC, (877)-376-2631.