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Targeted treatments improve outcomes
Over the last decade, overall cancer survival rates have increased dramatically, driven by treatment advances and the fact that more people are getting screened regularly for breast, colon and prostate cancers. Unfortunately, there is no proven screening test for lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death in men and women. The National Cancer Institute estimates 222,500 new lung cancer cases and 157,300 lung cancer deaths in 2010.
Diagnosing lung cancer in its early stages is difficult. “About 75 percent of patients who present to a physician with symptoms already have advanced lung cancer,” says Manish Gupta, M.D., oncologist on the medical staff at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano.
Hoarseness and a constant minor cough could be earlier symptoms, but those are easy to brush off.
However, since lung cancer and smoking pretty much go hand-in-hand, smoking itself is a big red flag.
“The majority of patients who get lung cancer are or have been smokers,” Dr. Gupta. While secondhand smoke, radon and certain chemical exposures account for a small fraction of lung cancer, 90 percent is caused directly by smoking.
Treatment options vary by cancer type and stage and include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. “The most significant advances in lung cancer treatment have evolved around new targeted agents,” says Dr. Gupta. Researchers have discovered specific mutations in cancer cells that promote tumor growth, such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), and developed new drugs to attack them. “These have resulted in improved survival and less toxicity.”
For a referral to an oncologist on the medical staff at Baylor Plano who can help you deal with a diagnosis of cancer, call 1-800-4BAYLOR or visit BaylorHealth.com/PlanoCancer.
If you or a loved one is dealing with lung cancer, find help and information and support at Baylor Plano. To learn more about the cancer services offered at Baylor Plano, including support groups and education programs, visit BaylorHealth.com/PlanoCancer.
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