Fox Chase Cancer Center Observes National Lung Cancer Awareness Month

PHILADELPHIA (November 1, 2016) – This November, Fox Chase Cancer Center is observing National Lung Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women. It is by far the leading cause of cancer death, with 1 out of 4 cancer deaths from lung cancer. More people die every year of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.

Risk Factors

Smoking is unquestionably the number-one risk factor for lung cancer. According to the ACS, approximately 80% of lung cancer deaths are thought to result from smoking. The longer you smoke and more packs per day you smoke, the greater your risk. “The most important recommendation I can make is to quit smoking – no matter what your age or how long you’ve smoked – or not start the habit at all, whether it’s cigarettes, cigars or pipes,” said Hossein Borghaei, DO, chief of thoracic medical oncology and director of lung cancer risk assessment at Fox Chase.

Secondhand smoke, where you breathe in the smoke of others, can also increase your risk of lung cancer. More than 7,000 lung cancer deaths per year are caused by secondhand smoke, according to the ACS.

Other risk factors of lung cancer include exposure to environmental substances, such as radon, asbestos, and diesel exhaust; age; personal history of lung disease, such as emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, (COPD); and family history of lung cancer.

Symptoms of Lung Cancer

Symptoms of lung cancer vary. While some individuals have symptoms related to the lungs, others may have symptoms specific to a part of the body where their lung cancer has spread, or metastasized.

  • Coughing that gets worse or doesn’t go away
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath, wheezing or hoarseness
  • Coughing up blood
  • Feeling very tired all the time
  • Weight loss with no known cause
  • Repeated respiratory infections, including pneumonia and bronchitis

“Symptoms of lung cancer typically don’t appear until the disease is at an advanced stage,” said Borghaei. “In fact, many lung cancers are diagnosed when a patient receives a chest X-ray or other test for an unrelated medical condition.”

The only recommended screening test for lung cancer is low-dose computed tomography (low-dose CT scan, or LDCT). “We generally recommend lung cancer screening only for adults who have no symptoms but who are at high risk for developing the disease because of their smoking history and age,” said Borghaei. The ACS has set specific guidelines for lung cancer screening. It states that all patients should be asked about their smoking history. Those who meet all of the following criteria below may be candidates for screening:

  • 55 to 74 years old
  • No symptoms of lung cancer
  • Have at least a 30 pack per year smoking history
  • Are either still smoking or have quit smoking within the last 15 years

The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) makes a similar recommendation, with the only difference being in the age individuals should be screened. The USPSTF recommends screening for people ages 55 to 79.

“Only a patient and his or her doctor can determine if screening is the right choice,” said Borghaei. “In regard to lung cancer, there continues to be significant exciting research focused on developing effective screening methods and developing targeted therapies to treat patients who have been diagnosed with this disease.”

Fox Chase offers a Risk Assessment Program for individuals and families concerned about their risk for certain types of cancer. To learn more, visit


Fox Chase Cancer Center (Fox Chase), which includes the Institute for Cancer Research and the American Oncologic Hospital and is a part of Temple Health, is one of the leading comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase is also one of just 10 members of the Alliance of Dedicated Cancer Centers. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence six consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach. It is the policy of Fox Chase Cancer Center that there shall be no exclusion from, or participation in, and no one denied the benefits of, the delivery of quality medical care on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/expression, disability, age, ancestry, color, national origin, physical ability, level of education, or source of payment.

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