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Posts tagged ‘tobacco use’

Lung Cancer Awareness Month

November brings a whole new series of things to be aware.  We can now put away our pink, and pick out a different color to wear.   Many of these are not as sexy as breast cancer, but just as important, and lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer of them all.  We as a society view lung cancer as a cancer due to the consequences of ones actions.  Since 80-90% of lung cancers are the result of smoking or second hand smoke, they are just asking for it, right?  Wait a minute, we don’t treat any other cancer this way.  We don’t treat heart disease this way, when our diet and lack of exercise accounts for almost the same percentages for heart disease and diabetes.

Lung cancer has become the punishment cancer that we don’t discuss even though it kills more people than any other cancer. According to the CDC  “Each year, about 200,000 people in the United States are told they have lung cancer and more than 150,000 people die from this disease. Deaths from lung cancer represent about one out of every six deaths from cancer in the U.S.”

One in six deaths from cancer, and yet it doesn’t have a flashy ad campaign.  Its survivors, well there aren’t that many, and let’s be honest it is hard to be sexy with a tracheostomy tube.  And even still smoking isn’t the only risk factor for lung cancer.  Other risk factors include:

  • Smoking.
  • Secondhand smoke from other people’s cigarettes.
  • Radon gas in the home.
  • Things around home or work, including asbestos, ionizing radiation, and other cancer-causing substances.
  • Medical exposure to radiation to the chest.
  • Chronic lung disease such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis.
  • Increased age.

Local, city and state governments have helped decrease smoking with public ordinances, but even still there are areas where smoking is still the norm.  And with medical advances, there are even greater chances that we will irradiate someone into a cancer.  Emergency Rooms now have lists of people that are no longer allowed to have CT scans due to risk of radiation.

While smoking is the single greatest risk factor for lung cancer, it is not fair to write off an entire class of cancer patients due to it.  Smoking increases the risk of almost every cancer.  And lung cancer kills more people than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined.  And to look at its incidence is staggering.  Using the data from 2008, which is the most complete data we have

Lung and Bronchus Cancer Incidence Rates by State

Lung and Bronchus Cancer Incidence Rates* by State, 2008†

Map of the United States showing lung cancer incidence rates by state.

Color on Map Interval States
Light green 23.5 to 59.5 Arizona, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming
Medium green 59.6 to 66.8 Connecticut, Kansas, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin
Medium blue 66.9 to 73.7 Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island
Dark blue 73.8 to 99.3 Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia

*Rates are per 100,000 and are age-adjusted to the 2000 U.S. standard population.
†U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2008 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta (GA): Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Cancer Institute; 2012. Available at:http://www.cdc.gov/uscs.

Deaths from Lung and Bronchus Cancer by State

Rates of dying from lung and bronchus cancer also vary from state to state.

Lung and Bronchus Cancer Death Rates* by State, 2008†

Map of the United States showing lung cancer death rates by state.

Color on Map Interval States
Light green 18.2 to 45.6 Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming
Medium green 45.7 to 50.7 District of Columbia, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin
Medium blue 50.8 to 56.1 Alaska, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia
Dark blue 56.2 to 74.7 Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia

*Rates are per 100,000 and are age-adjusted to the 2000 U.S. standard population.
†U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2008 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta (GA): Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Cancer Institute; 2012. Available at:http://www.cdc.gov/uscs.

This map shows just how prevalent lung cancer is.  And while many states are decreasing the incidence of smoking, there is still a lot more to be done.  In Oklahoma, for example, while city and state buildings are smoke free much of the state is still tribal land, and Indian smoke shops have drive through windows.  The significance of the Indian smoke shops?  Well, they are not subject to all the federal and state taxes on cigarettes.  So increasing tax rates on those products has not reduced sales from these shops.

The other states with the highest risk- well how many of them have livelihoods dependent on the tobacco industry.  This cancer will remain a significant issue until we educate kids effectively, before they ever pick up a cigarette, which in many cases, is at or around the age of 8.  We need to educate their parents that it is not ok for them to pass this addiction to the next generation.

I spend a lot of time counseling for tobacco use in my office, and there is not one who has ever come in and said, “Smoking it the greatest thing I have ever done in my life.”

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