Oklahomans need to know lung cancer risk factors and treatment options

Lung cancer by far is the leading cause of cancer death in both Oklahoma and the nation, and according to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 3,100 Oklahomans will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year. In honor of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, the Oklahoma Proton Center (OPC) is urging Oklahomans to educate themselves on the risk factors associated with lung cancer and all the available treatment options.

“When battling cancer, educating yourself on the treatment options available is a critical step to ensuring you get the best treatment for your particular case,” says Dr. Gary Larson, radiation oncologist. “We want lung cancer patients across Oklahoma to be informed about all available treatment options and how they can affect the body both short and long-term.”

The International Journal of Radiation Oncology recently published a study on the effectiveness of proton therapy vs. photon radiotherapy in Non-Small Lung Cancer (NSCLC). Outcomes and predictors associated with proton radiotherapy for NSCLC in the National Cancer DataBase were analyzed and revealed improved survival rates for patients who chose proton therapy as treatment.

Of all patients, those treated with proton therapy had significantly better overall survival compared to those treated without proton therapy. Additionally, the study showed that proton therapy was associated with a better five-year survival rate, compared to patients treated without proton therapy. OPC is the only proton therapy treatment center in the state, and one of only approximately two dozen centers nationwide.

“With proton therapy, we’re able to better target a tumor, reducing damage to healthy surrounding tissue and potentially allowing patients to receive higher, more effective doses of radiation,” said Dr. Larson. “In a case of lung cancer, this can mean we spare important surrounding organs and tissue like the heart.”

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and OPC encourages Oklahomans to stay informed of the signs and symptoms associated with lung cancer, including: A cough that does not go away or gets worse, Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum (spit or phlegm), Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing, Hoarseness, Weight loss and loss of appetite, Shortness of breath, Feeling tired or weak, Infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia that won’t go away or keep coming back, New onset of wheezing.

“Most importantly, it is important to keep an ongoing, open dialogue with your doctor about your health and any irregularities you may notice,” says Dr. Larson, “If you are diagnosed with lung cancer, I encourage you to consider all your treatment options as you make your decision.”

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