They’re the words no one ever wants to hear: “You’ve got cancer.”
Luckily, these days our healthcare system has many available tools to help fight off “the big C,” but those words still hold the power to make someone’s life flash before their eyes, bringing the things that matter most into sharp relief.
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, a time to recognize both the individuals struggling with this condition and the tireless scientists and medical professionals fighting to stop it. Today, let’s talk about lung cancer and the millions of lives it touches.
Lung Cancer in the U.S.
The CDC describes cancer as “a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control.” Lung cancer first develops in the lungs, though it can also spread to other organs like the lymph nodes or even the brain.
Lung cancer is the second-most common form of cancer in the United States (after skin cancer). In fact, it accounts for 14% of all new cancer diagnoses each year! The largest risk factor for developing lung cancer is tobacco exposure (either through smoking or secondhand smoke), but it’s also possible to develop lung cancer after exposure to asbestos, radon, or other carcinogenic pollutants.
How Radiology Saves Lives
Sadly, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. – accounting for almost 25% of all cancer casualties. However, there are many treatments our healthcare professionals use to manage and treat lung cancer, from surgeries like segmental resections (where surgeons remove a portion of the affected lung) to radiation therapy.
Of course, lung cancer treatments cannot move forward without help from the radiology department. Radiology and diagnostic imaging are integral to a patient’s entire journey with cancer.
Imaging tests like CT scans, bronchoscopies, or MRIs of the chest are a critical first step for identifying both the presence of cancer cells and the type of cells: non-small cells, which can be removed through surgery with early detection, or small cells, which typically require chemotherapy. Radiology is even vital after treatment, as it can help doctors assess a treatment’s efficacy and monitor the lungs for any signs of cancer coming back.
Ultimately, surviving lung cancer is possible. However, a person’s survival rate is greater if their doctors detect cancer early and prescribe an effective treatment plan. Both of these things are critical to beat lung cancer — and both are only possible with the help of radiology.
In honor of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, we’d like to say “thank you” to all the radiologists who are saving lives every day by helping identify and inform their medical care — as well as the doctors, scientists, and technicians fighting against lung cancer. This November (and every month after), we are grateful for everything you do.
Vesta believes that a good work-life balance is important for your technologists, radiologists and all your staff. That’s why we offer teleradiology services to fill those gaps—nights, weekends and even holidays.