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University of Missouri Health Care News Releases
MU Health Care specialists call for greater awareness of lung cancer

November 16, 2009                                                                                        Matt Splett
                                                                                                                            Media Coordinator
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                          (573) 882-5663

COLUMBIA, Mo. - This November, specialists at MU Health Care are calling for greater awareness and attention to lung cancer—the leading cause of cancer deaths among Americans.

Every year lung cancer kills more people than breast, prostate, and colon cancers combined. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 220,000 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year, and another 160,000 people will die from the disease.

“Lung cancer is becoming a huge public health problem,” said Rajiv Dhand, M.D., director of the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Environmental Medicine at the MU School of Medicine and pulmonary oncologist at Ellis Fischel Cancer Center. “Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of most cancers including lung cancer. If you smoke, you should quit immediately. This will greatly reduce your risk of developing lung cancer.”

Because there are very few warning signs of lung cancer and the symptoms can take years to develop, diagnosis of lung cancer typically happens at a late stage. Dhand says three primary symptoms of lung cancer are a persistent cough that doesn’t clear up, coughing up blood and loss of appetite or weight.

Nearly 90 percent of all lung cancer diagnoses are the result of smoking. Dhand recommends that smokers schedule regular appointments with their physicians. Early detection of lung cancer offers patients the best possible chance of survival.

“If the cancer is detected early at stage one or two, then the cancer can be removed through surgery,” said Dhand. “But if the cancer is detected late, then treatment is predominantly done by chemotherapy or radiation.”

MU Health Care offers a team of multidisciplinary specialists devoted to prescribing the best treatment plan for every lung cancer patient, from diagnosis through recovery. The team includes oncologists, pulmonary oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists, nurses, social workers and other health care professionals.

“The patient is being cared for by a team of experienced physicians and experts,” said Dhand. “We meet regularly to discuss the patient’s needs and present the patient with a treatment plan that offers the best possible outcome.”

Every day families across mid-Missouri are waging battles against lung cancer. To provide emotional and healing support, Ellis Fischel Cancer Center provides a lung cancer support group that meets once a month in Columbia. The group consists of lung cancer survivors, their spouses and supporters.

“Whenever someone is diagnosed with lung cancer, one of the key pieces of information we give them is information about the support group,” said Christine Chang, ACNP-BC, nurse practitioner at Ellis Fischel Cancer Center and leader of the lung cancer support group. “We find that many of our survivors make a real connection with people going through a similar situation.”

To find out more information about the support group, please contact Chang at (573) 882-2587.

Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, a part of the University of Missouri Health Care system, provides comprehensive cancer care to patients from every county in the state. More than 100 physician specialists and other trained professionals work together to improve and save the lives of cancer patients. Designated Missouri’s official state cancer center in 2004, Ellis Fischel also offers outpatient treatment and cancer screening services.

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