Hard-won Insights Into Cancer

As a woman who was raised with an enormous fear of breast cancer, after my Mom experienced a radical mastectomy in her thirties, I had a lot to learn when I was diagnosed with COPD recently, and then discovered that I might have lung cancer. I noticed that the excellent program “Beyond Cancer” in CBS Sunday Morning todayfocused mostly on childhood and breast cancer, most women’s greatest fears. I would like to raise awareness that lung cancer is far more common.

lung cancer purpleLung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, with 1.8 million new cases diagnosed yearly. In the United States, lung cancer is the most fatal cancer in women, surpassing breast cancer in 1987 as the leading cause of cancer-related deaths. It is also the most fatal cancer in men, killing more men than prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and colon cancer combined. Lung cancer in never-smokers is the sixth leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

Overall, 27 percent of cancer deaths in the U.S. are due to lung cancer

I know what you’re thinking now: Yes but lung cancer only happens in smokers.

The average age for lung cancer is 70, and 80 percent of people who develop lung cancer have smoked at some time, but lung cancer occurs in women and lung cancer occurs in non-smokers. While lung cancer in men who have smoked is decreasing, lung cancer in non-smokers is increasing.

purple cancer cell

It’s estimated that 20 percent of women who develop lung cancer in the U.S. have never smoked, and that number increases to 50 percent worldwide. Lung cancer also occurs in young adults – It’s estimated that 13.4 percent of lung cancers occur in adults under the age of 40. While this number may seem small, when compared to the incidence of lung cancer overall, it is not. It is estimated that if everyone past age 55 underwent regular screening, the mortality rate from lung cancer could be decreased by as much as 20 percent.

In summary, if you haven’t had a lung x-ray in years, get one now. The nodules in my lungs are small. I did not know that there is a very specific protocol depending on that size and number. In my case we will wait three months and then do another cat scan to see if they are growing.

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Now I live in a rural Colorado county with nice clean air, but all those years of living in cities must be catching up with me… How about you? What’s happening in your lungs right now? It may be a good time to take a look!

laura-rasta-xmas-2012-croppedI’m a newcomer to rural southern Colorado.  After two years I decided to compile a short journal about the ups and downs of moving from a good-sized city to rural America to build a passive solar retirement home:   Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado   Please share this information with your friends if they are considering similar life changes. Feel free to contact me directly to discuss any of these challenges, and to order your own signed copies of any of my books!              Cheers, Laura Lee  (email me: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com)

 

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2 thoughts on “Hard-won Insights Into Cancer

  1. Lung cancer for nonsmokers is really a double tragedy. Most people think it only occurs for smokers and it is a life style cancer and the patient’s own fault. It sounds harsh but as a breast cancer survivor I have heard all the ugly comments from people scared that it may happen to them. I wish you the best.

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  2. Isn’t that the craziest response possible Haralee? Especially considering that genetics has so much to do with who gets cancer and who doesn’t! There is no justice in illness and none of us get out of this alive…

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