Maybe the cause needs a catchy slogan, like “Think Pink.” After all, everyone has seen those pink ribbons on T-shirts, cars, etc., promoting breast cancer awareness.
While no one would argue against breast cancer awareness, the bottom line is, said SOMC thoracic and cardiac surgeon Jeremiah Martin, the number one cancer killer nationwide and locally is by far lung cancer.
At least since early last year, Martin and SOMC have been on a bit of a mission to promote early lung cancer screening.
On Saturday, April 6, 1-4 p.m., at Dr. Singleton Park on SR 73 in West Portsmouth, Martin, in conjunction with the SOMC Community Health & Wellness Fund, is sponsoring a free public event, “Air It Up,” intended, according to Martin, to promote smoking cessation and lung health.
Two of the bigger attractions planned for the event are a large kite display provided by PIGS Aloft Cincinnati and live entertainment from Portsmouth native turned Nashville-based recording act Shane Runion.
The event also will feature inflatables food trucks and, of course, lung health information.
According to information presented by Martin late last year, among males, it is estimated lung cancer would be the culprit behind 26 percent of the cancer deaths in the U.S. in 2018. Among females, the number is nearly as high, sitting at 25 percent. It is probably worth noting while the disease receives lots of publicity as already noted, breast cancer is estimated to be responsible for only 14 percent of female cancer deaths. It is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women.
Lung cancer is definitely a huge problem in Scioto County, accounting for just over 35 percent of the cancer mortalities locally. That is clearly well above the national average. Further, lung cancer accounts for 18.6 percent of all new cancer cases, a figure again above average.
Martin emphasizes the importance of early detection of lung cancer, stating if the cancer is caught early enough, five years later 90 percent of patients are still alive and kicking. If the cancer is caught in later stages, only 15 percent of patients will have survived those same five years. Many persons, Martin continued, can have early-stage lung cancer and not realize it.
“It’s a very aggressive disease,” he said. “Often by the time you realize you have a problem, it’s a big problem.”
The big development in lung cancer screening is low dose computed tomography, in other words a low dose CT scan, meaning patients are exposed to 75 percent less radiation than during a normal CT scan.
According to the SOMC website, persons who should be checked for lung cancer are anyone, male or female, 55 years of age or older, who is a current smoker or who quit in the past 15 years. Persons who smoked a pack a day or more for 30 years or more are especially encouraged to be tested. And although testing is urged – stating they hope to relieve anxiety- the SOMC’s site’s authors note about 76 percent of those tested will have negative results.
For that 24 percent who aren’t so lucky, in addition to promoting early testing, Martin has in the past talked about how much improvement there has been in the surgery that may or may not be the best course of treatment for lung cancer.
For persons interested in getting tested for early-stage lung cancer SOMC has set up a special call line at (740) 356-LUNG. Martin said SOMC will, among other things, guide patients through insurance questions and the process leading up to testing.
For information on the upcoming event, visit somc.org/news-events/events/air-it-up/.