Interview: November marks Lung Cancer Awareness Month


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — November is Lung Cancer Awareness month, a time to take a closer look at the type of cancer that the American Cancer Society says is by far the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women.

Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined, making up almost 25% of all cancer deaths.

The first signs of lung cancer may include coughing, wheezing, feeling short of breath, chest pain and mucus in blood that you may cough up.

“So the lung cancer cells which are themselves abnormal actually invade and destroy right where they’re at. But, what happens is these cells then, unfortunately, develop wings, and they learn how to, as they evolve, travel the lymph nodes system and the blood system to go throughout the whole body,” explained Dr. Anthony Retodo, an internal medicine physician with Kaiser Permanente in Folsom. “That’s the reason why lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer death in this world.”

Smoking is the main risk factor for lung cancer.

“Smoking is absolutely number one; 80% of all lung cancer is due to smoking. Twenty percent: secondhand smoke, asbestos, exposure to radon, exposure to radioactive materials at work. But the number one cause of lung cancer is smoking, and the number one way to prevent it is to quit smoking now,” Retodo said.

Amid the pandemic, there’s been a new focus on lung cancer and smoking because of the respiratory implications.

“One of the things that’s cool about Kaiser Permanente is that we’re finding out that our patients are telling us they want to quit smoking now,” Retodo said. “And, the reason for that is, it’s really simple you know, in this brand new world with the coronavirus, we know now that vaping and tobacco products make it so then when you get the corona disease, it is much worse and you don’t do quite as well.”

Suggested tips for someone who wants to quit smoking include preparing yourself for the change, think about why you want to quit, change your routine and get support. 

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