52 Weeks of Public Health: Spreading awareness among Kentuckians about risks of lung cancer

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As part of the 52 Weeks of Public Health Campaign, the Kentucky Department of Public Health within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services is raising awareness about lung cancer in Kentucky.

Lung cancer impacts Kentuckians more than any other cancer. In Kentucky, both men and women have significantly higher rates of lung cancer than other states in the U.S. More Kentuckians have died from lung cancer than all of the next seven leading causes of cancer death combined.

Smoking tobacco is the main contributor to Kentucky’s high lung cancer rates. Kentucky has the second highest smoking rate in the nation with 1 out of every 4 adults in Kentuckians smokes.

“Smoking tobacco is an addiction, and those who want to quit can get help,” said Brian Boisseau, cancer program manager for the DPH Chronic Disease Prevention Branch. “People who want to quit smoking can receive help through Kentucky Quit Now, a free, statewide telephone-based tobacco cessation resource.”

Tobacco smoke is not the only risk factor for lung cancer. Radon, an odorless, colorless gas, is found in almost half of all Kentucky homes according to the Kentucky Radon Program. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. DPH provides free home radon test kits through the Kentucky Radon Program. Test kits may also be purchased at most home improvement stores.

Although reducing risk factors is the first line of defense to prevent lung cancer, new screening criteria recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force can help doctors find lung cancer before there are symptoms. A new test called low-dose computed tomography (CT) scan has been proven to find lung cancer early, when treatment has proven to be the most effective. If you are between ages 55 and 80 years and currently smoke or quit within the last 15 years, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about whether you should get screened for lung cancer.

The good news is that lung cancer can be prevented and it can also be treated.

“Early detection through screening is a key step in getting treatment early, and the next step is up to you,” said Dr. Connie Gayle White, senior deputy commissioner for DPH.

For more information and resources about lung cancer and lung cancer screening, please visit the Lung Cancer Alliance website at www.lungcanceralliance.org, the Kentucky LEADS Collaborative website at www.kentuckyleads.org, and the Kentucky Cancer Consortium Lung Cancer Network at www.kycancerc.org.

From Cabinet for Health and Family Services

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