March 2, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

From the Sponsor: Frank Talk About Lung Cancer:

GERARD W. FRANK, M.D., PH.D.

SPECIAL TO THE MIRROR

November is “Lung Cancer Awareness Month” and an opportune time to talk about this deadly disease and draw attention to causes, prevention, and treatment advances. Lung cancer is far and away the deadliest malignant tumor, far surpassing breast, colon, or prostate cancer. Until recently, treatment has been very discouraging, mainly because lung cancer may remain silent until reaching an advanced stage. The last decade however, has seen remarkable advances in our understanding of the disease and targeted therapy to maximize success and minimize side-effects.

Since the historic Surgeon General’s Report in 1964, we have known that most lung cancers result from smoking. Despite challenges from tobacco companies, no serious scientist or physician doubts it today. Tobacco smoke contains possibly hundreds of chemicals, many of which irritate lung cells. Over time, this can lead to cells’ mutating into cancer and multiplying. Moreover, the blood may carry these cells to the brain, bones, liver and other organs, causing the cancer to spread and become incurable.

Unfortunately, lung cancer also occurs in non-smokers for poorly understood reasons. Another well-known cause is asbestos, long used in insulation. Presently, asbestos exposure in the U.S. is rare, and the asbestos in the brake linings of our cars is not in a form that causes lung cancer.

How about radiation? Radon is a radioactive gas found in the ground worldwide and a known cause of lung cancer if inhaled. It was discovered several decades ago that radon can accumulate in poorly ventilated basements of houses and other buildings. Its overall risk to the population is unknown. By contrast, chest x-rays have never been shown to lead to lung cancer.

The risk of lung cancer varies among racial groups and between men and women. Women may be more susceptible to the cancer-causing effects of tobacco smoke.

Lung cancer starts as one abnormal cell, but cannot be detected by x-rays until it has grown to at least a billion cells. There are both fast-growing and slow-growing lung cancers and decades may go by before detection. Eventually, the cancer either appears on a routine chest x-ray or begins to cause symptoms such as shortness of breath, weight loss or coughing blood.

Sometimes the symptoms arise from other organs where the cancer has spread, resulting in bone pain, seizures, or strokes. It then becomes necessary to obtain some tumor cells because lung cancer takes different forms and therapy should be tailored to the particular cancer’s cell type. Bronchoscopy is a procedure in which a fiber-optic tube is placed through the throat into the lung airways to remove a tiny sample of the tumor. Often, the tumor can be reached by a needle placed through the skin to extract cells for analysis.

After a definitive diagnosis, the tumor must be “staged” to determine how extensively it has spread. Staging helps guide therapeutic choices: surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy. One of the most significant recent advances in lung-cancer management is the PET scan, which helps physicians determine if the tumor has spread. If the tumor is confined and the patient is otherwise fairly healthy, surgery to cure it is a reasonable possibility. If the tumor has spread to bones or the brain, radiation can successfully control symptoms.

Sadly, very few lung cancers are curable, but hopefully effective therapy can slow tumor growth, control symptoms, and give patients longer lives. The first drugs used for lung cancer — and some still in use — produced unpleasant and painful side-effects. For over a decade, however, many inoperable lung cancers have been treated with “targeted therapy,” which specifically attacks cancer cells and spares normal ones. Additionally, recent advances in chemotherapy have improved survival rates, with some patients still alive after five or more years.

As with all cancers, there should be great focus on prevention or early detection of lung cancer. Obviously, smoking cessation would dramatically reduce the number of lung-cancer cases. Medications and other stop-smoking aids are effective, but also expensive – except when compared with cigarettes prices. Social support and encouragement are important for smokers who want to quit. Persistent physician warnings to patients are an established effective method, as are community efforts to raise awareness about the risks. The “Great American Smokeout,” which occurs every November, is one of the better known community efforts to stamp out smoking.

Heavy smokers are at risk for cancer even decades after their last cigarette, so the medical community has been seeking the best way to catch cancers at curable stages. Unfortunately, even yearly chest x-rays have not had much impact on lung-cancer death rates. Several national studies involving chest CT scans are underway to determine both the positive impact, as well as the cost to society, of such expensive screening programs.

Santa Monica is home to several oncology groups at the forefront with experimental protocols. While cure and regression are uppermost in physicians’ minds, palliative care — or the management of symptoms — must not be forgotten. This medical specialty is also advancing and having greater impact on lung-cancer patients and their families. No lung cancer patient should feel hopeless or helpless.

Dr. Gerard Frank is a board-certified internal medicine specialist and pulmonologist with the UCLA Medical Group in Santa Monica and an associate clinical professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

in News
Related Posts

Construction Alert: Topanga Canyon Boulevard Faces Nightly Closures Starting March 4

March 1, 2024

March 1, 2024

Caltrans Announces 18-Mile Project Spanning Chatsworth to PCH Commuters in the Los Angeles area should prepare for significant delays as...

Film Review: Nyad

February 29, 2024

February 29, 2024

FILM REVIEWNYADRated PG-13121 MinutesReleased November 3rdOscar Nominations: Best Leading Actress, Best Supporting Actress “I failed many times, but I can...

Security Officers Being Deployed at Big Blue Bus Stations and Routes

February 29, 2024

February 29, 2024

The Guards will be provided by a firm with other security contracts with the city of Santa Monica  By Zach...

Leap Day Brings Once-in-Four-Year Deals at Popular Restaurants All Day Long

February 28, 2024

February 28, 2024

Krispy Kreme, Dunkin’, and More Roll Out Special Offers to Mark the Occasion Leap Day, that rare additional day occurring...

Sweet Lady Jane’s Social Media Tease Continues As Locations Sport Hiring Notices

February 28, 2024

February 28, 2024

Mysterious Posts Leave Fans Eager for the Return, But Questions Linger By Dolores Quintana After resurfacing on social media, the...

Upcoming Ice Cream Shop on Montana Ave. Will Serve Multitude of Vegan Flavors

February 28, 2024

February 28, 2024

The Company Has Come a Long Way Since Its Humble Beginnings as a New York City Food Truck By Zach...

(Video) Pro-Palestine Protest at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel

February 28, 2024

February 28, 2024

Protesters were there to protest the arrival of U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi Counter-protesters drove by in a car. @smmirrornews Pro-Palestine...

(Video) Restaurants Replace Glass Front Doors After Late Night Robbery Spree in Del Ray

February 28, 2024

February 28, 2024

Seven restaurants and small businesses in Del Rey and Venice, including Nick the Greek and Dudley Market, were robbed. Council...

SMMUSD Appoints New Asst. Superintendent of Education Services

February 27, 2024

February 27, 2024

Dr. Williamson Will Assume Her Role on March 8, Bringing 17 Years of Education Experience In a special board meeting...

Hollywood Royalty to Shine at 96th Oscars: First Wave of Star-Studded Presenter Lineup Unveiled

February 27, 2024

February 27, 2024

Incredible Lineup of Actors and Previous Oscar Winners Announced Executive producer and showrunner Raj Kapoor, along with executive producers Molly...

Vote Smart, Vote Early: Streamlining Your 2024 Presidential Primary Experience in L.A. County

February 27, 2024

February 27, 2024

Skip the Lines and Save Time – Your Guide to Early Voting Options  In preparation for the upcoming 2024 Presidential...

Iconic Venice Beach Sculpture and Landmark to be Removed, Returned to Artist’s Property

February 27, 2024

February 27, 2024

Since the Money, Effort or Desire to Purchase the Piece Appears to Not Be There, the Artist Wants It Back...

(Video) Heartfelt candlelight vigils in Westchester and West Hollywood for Nex Benedict

February 27, 2024

February 27, 2024

The non-binary 16 year old student with Choctaw ancestry died in Owasso, Oklahoma after being beaten by three older high...

Sweet Lady Jane Sparks Hope of Return – Popular Bakery Hints at Reopening Across LA

February 27, 2024

February 27, 2024

After Abrupt Closures, Beloved Bakery Hints at a Comeback, Leaving Fans Intrigued  Sweet Lady Jane, a Los Angeles cake bakery...

Waymo’s LA Expansion Hits Roadblock: CPUC Temporarily Halts Self-Driving Company’s Plans

February 26, 2024

February 26, 2024

California Public Utilities Commission suspends Waymo’s service expansion for 120 days. California’s Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has put a temporary...