Monthly Archives: October 2006

Lung Cancer Screening: What Do We Do Now?

Every year lung cancer extracts a terrible toll in this country.


Here are some of the numbers:


  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States in 2006


  • In 2006, 174,470 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer, and 167,050 will die from this disease


  • 15 years of life are lost by the average person who dies from lung cancer


  • 2,3643,900 years of life were lost in this country in 2002 from lung cancer


It is obvious that anything we can do to decrease the rate of deaths from lung cancer will have a huge impact on the health and length of life of this country.


As hard as many have tried, we still have around 20% of the adult population who smoke, and there is a continuing tobacco addiction crisis among young people in the United States.


For those who are smokers, and those who are former smokers who have quit using tobacco (who are now in the majority relative to those who have ever used tobacco), there has been little we can offer to prevent this disease.


And, up until recently, there has been … Continue reading →

Avastin And Lung Cancer:Can We Afford Miracles?

An announcement yesterday that Avastin (bevacizumab) was approved for the treatment of advanced lung cancer was good news, but it also raised some troubling questions.


How the company has responded to some of the criticisms about the cost of the drug is also of interest, but it remains to be seen how their efforts are going to be greeted by patients and their doctors.


First, the news about the treatment itself.


Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer deaths in this country, accounting for about 167,000 deaths in 2006.


Unfortunately, over the past 30 years we haven’t made much progress in treating patients with lung cancer, especially when the disease is beyond surgical resection or has spread to other parts of the body. 


The likelihood of someone surviving lung cancer 5 years after diagnosis is 15.3% overall.   If the disease is localized, the chances are 49.5% for a five year survival, while for those who are diagnosed with distant disease the chances of living five years is a dismal 2.1%.


The history of the effectiveness of treating the most common form of lung cancer with chemotherapy hasn’t been very dramatic.… Continue reading →

The Baby Is Still (Sun)Burning

If we are going to make continued progress in reducing the burden of cancer, then we need to pay close attention to those lifestyle issues that impact cancer incidence, as well as make certain we get recommended cancer screenings at appropriate intervals.


But cancer prevention is not just a topic for adults like you and me. It should also be a topic for kids as well, particularly in the areas of smoking, diet, exercise and sun exposure.


We cannot ignore the fact that many of the habits that lead to cancer and other chronic illnesses start with our children, and we as adults and parents have a responsibility to our kids to set the right example, and to do our best to get them started on the right track.


In one area in particular, however, it looks like we are not doing a very good job, and that is in regards to the risks associated with sun exposure.


Skin cancer remains a serious problem in this country, and the data suggest that problem is increasing.  There are over 1 million “routine” skin cancers diagnosed in this country every year, and more than 62,000 cases … Continue reading →