Lung Cancer Prevention

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Clay and Platte Counties. It kills more people than breast and colorectal cancers combined. While cigarette smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, thousands of nonsmokers also die from lung cancer each year.

Symptoms

Lung cancer symptoms vary from person-to-person, but may include:

• A cough that doesn't go away and gets worse over time
• Chest pain
• Coughing up blood
• Fatigue
• Loss of appetite or weight loss
• Repeated problems with pneumonia or bronchitis
• Shortness of breath, wheezing or hoarseness
• Swelling of the neck and face

Diagnosis

Once lung cancer begins to cause symptoms, it will usually show up on an X-ray or CT scan. To confirm a diagnosis of lung cancer, the doctor will perform a biopsy, during which a small amount of lung tissue from the tumor is removed for testing.

If lung cancer is confirmed, the doctor will order additional tests to determine if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Reduce Your Risk

If you’re a smoker, the best way to reduce your risk of lung cancer is to quit. The more cigarettes you smoke per day and the earlier you started smoking, the greater your risk of lung cancer. If you are unable to quit smoking on your own, talk with your doctor. He or she may be able to recommend counseling, medication or nicotine replacement products, such as patches or gum.

Other risk factors that may increase your chances for cancer include:

• Exposure to cancer-causing chemicals such as asbestos, arsenic and nickel
• Family history of lung cancer
• High levels of air pollution
• Radiation therapy to the lungs
• Radon gas
• Secondhand smoke

Screening

If you are considered high-risk for developing lung cancer, a low-dose CT screening can help detect the disease before you have symptoms. If the cancer is found early, treatment may be more successful.

The Test

During a low-dose CT lung cancer screening, special X-ray equipment connected to a computer takes detailed pictures of your lungs. The test is quick, painless and accurate.

Criteria

A low-dose CT scan may be right for you if you:
• Are age 55 and above with a 30 pack-year history
• Have no history of lung cancer
• Smoke or have smoked in the last 15 years
• Smoke or have smoked at least 30 pack-years (one pack/day for 30 years, two packs/day for 15 years, etc.)

Call 816.691.5267 to schedule your lung screening. Most insurance plans cover the scan 100% for qualified candidates. Verify you have coverage before making an appointment.

Resources

• Read more about lung cancer and quitting smoking.
• Find support among other patients who suffer from lung cancer and other lung diseases.
• Get information on our comprehensive cancer care services.
• Learn more about North Kansas City Hospital’s pulmonary rehabilitation program, the only one in the Northland to be certified by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation.
• Learn about Supportive Care at NKCH, including services to help relieve pain, manage symptoms and improve quality of life.
• Meet Linda Cochran, RN, a cancer nurse navigator who helps patients receiving treatment for lung cancer at NKCH. Our amazing staff will support you every step of your journey.

A Patient Story

Joan Harrison

Through the process of volunteering, Joan discovered she had lung cancer. Now she encourages people to get a lung screening.