Lung Cancer: History and Hope


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Lung cancer was not identified as a disease until mid1700. But it's been around since the dawn of man. Now, scientists are out to find a cure…or more effective treatments.


Cavemen with cancer: 200 possible cancer sightings made by archaeologists, dating to prehistoric times

1500 B.C.: world's oldest documented cases of cancer. 8 recorded on papyrus.

Fact: Egyptians believed cancer was caused by the Gods.

Fact: Egyptians treated by cauterization using a hot instrument called "The fire drill." [Sounds gruesome, doesn't it?]

Hippocrates (460-370 B.C.): Used the word carcinos and carcinoma for tumors. Called cancer Karkinos.

The Greeks believed: cancer caused by excess of black bile in the body.

1761: Lung cancer identified as a distinct disease.

1810: Various characteristics of lung cancer identified.

1876-1938: 60 to 80% of all miners died from the disease. Mines were known as "death pits," where workers got sick.

1878: lung cancer still considered rare. Malignant lung tumors are only 1% of all cancers.

By 1918, the percentage rises to 10%

And by 1927: more than 14%.

1929: German physician Fritz Lickint first recognized the potential connection between smoking and lung cancer. This discovery led to a nationwide anti-tobacco movement in Nazi Germany.

WOW….Yes: The Nazis were anti-smoking!

1940: Lung cancer becomes second most frequent cause of cancer death, stomach cancer being #1

1954: An American Cancer Society links smoking and lung cancer.

1964: The U.S. Surgeon General report: says smoking cigarettes is cause of lung cancer and laryngeal cancer in men and a probable cause of lung cancer in women.

By 2013: Lung cancer accounts for more deaths than any other cancer: 159,480 deaths, that's 27 % of all cancer deaths[ expected in 2013].

Generally accepted causes of lung cancer:

The most common cause of lung cancer is from smoking. Then…
second hand smoke
radon exposure and
environmental factors

Modifying and avoiding risk factors

More than 30% of cancer deaths could be prevented by modifying or avoiding key risk factors, including:

tobacco use
being overweight or obese
unhealthy diet with low fruit and vegetable intake
lack of physical activity
alcohol use
sexually transmitted HPV-infection
urban air pollution
indoor smoke from household use of solid fuels.

Cancer is a leading killer:

228, 190: number of new cases of lung disease expected in 2013, or 14 %of all cancer diagnoses. 17 % of those will survive more than 5 years.

The Good News: The incidence rate has been declining in men over the past two decades, from a high of 102 (cases per 100,000 men) in 1984 to 72 in 2008.

In women, the rate has just begun to decrease. From 2004 to 2008, lung cancer incidence rates decreased by 1.9% per year in men and by 0.3% per year in women.

More good news: Death rates began declining in men in 1991; from 2004 to 2008, rates decreased 2.6% per year. Lung cancer death rates did not begin declining in women until 2003; from 2004 to 2008, rates decreased by 0.9% per year.

FACT: This is all a reflection of the reduction of cigarette smoking over the past 50 years

What Lung Cancer is:

Non-small cell (the most common type)
Small cell

FACT: treatment is based on the type and stage of tumor, and the patient's general medical condition.

Traditional treatments for non-small cell lung cancer depends on cancer stage and the patient's overall health.

Stage 0. Tumor spread is limited to the surface of the bronchus. Treatment options are surgical resection (removal) and treating the affected area with a laser to kill the cancer cells.
Stages I and II: tumor removal surgery. If surgery is not an option, radiation therapy with or without chemotherapy is recommended.
Stages IIIA and IIIB. Generally, patients in these two disease stages receive chest radiation treatment combined with chemotherapy Surgery is not recommended.
Stage IV. Cancers in this stage are not treated with surgery. Chemotherapy is the main treatment option. Radiation therapy may be recommended as well

Small cell lung cancer treatment

Combinations of chemotherapy and radiotherapy are used. Surgery is not a treatment option except in rare cases during the very early stages of the disease.

Limited stage. Combination of chemotherapy and chest radiation therapy. Most patients also are offered brain radiation treatment.
Extensive stage. Chemotherapy is the most important treatment option for this disease stage. Targeted radiation therapy may be recommended for areas that cause pain.

Don't lose hope: When all else fails, Clinical trials: research studies that test new ways to detect, prevent or treat disease. Check with your hospital.

WOW: Breakthrough, 2010:

A universal, precise, and specific gene-based test is able to pluck one abnormal cell from within a sea of 400,000 normal ones finding cancers invisible to CT scans, X-rays, and other methods of cancer detection. Test can tell:

If a person is cured with surgery or if there are cancer cells left behind that will require additional treatment,
Monitor the progression of each person's cancer and its response to treatment,
Alert clinicians to a recurrence of disease.

Medical Research shows promising experimental treatments…..[Keep in mind, these are still experimental]

SOX2: Embryo Gene Linked to Lethal Lung Cancer

Scientists have discovered genetic mutations linked to small cell lung cancer (SCLC). Among the genetic alterations identified was an increase in the number of copies (amplification) of a gene called SOX2. This gene is a TARGET for new treatments.

Nivolumab: is a drug, an antibody that targets the immune system's reaction to the disease. Nivolumab acts on the pathway that keeps the tumor safe from the immune system's efforts to destroy it. [Currently in trial stage]

What you need to know:

Lung Cancer Myths /Facts

Myth: Only Smokers Get Lung Cancer
Fact: The majority of people who develop lung cancer are smokers or ex-smokers, but a small percent of people who get lung cancer who are lifelong non-smokers Other causes are radiation, asbestos, second-hand smoke, radon, and air pollution.

Myth: More Women Die from Breast Cancer than from Lung Cancer
Fact: Almost half of lung cancer cases occur in women, and more women die from lung cancer every year than any other form of cancer.

Myth: Nothing I Do Will Lower My Risk of Lung Cancer
Fact: Not smoking or quitting smoking can lower your risk of developing lung cancer.

Myth: I Am Too Young to Get Lung Cancer
Fact: Lung cancer occurs more frequently in older people, but can occur in young people as well.

Myth: I Am Too Old to be Treated for Lung Cancer
Fact: Performance status, or how well someone is able to carry out ordinary daily activities, is a better indicator of how well someone will tolerate treatments than their actual age.

Myth: Lung Cancer is Not Curable
Fact: When caught early, lung cancer is curable. Even if a lung cancer is not curable, it is still treatable.

Myth: If I Already Have Lung Cancer, I Don't Need to Quit Smoking.
Fact: Quitting can help your body better cope with the treatment you are about to undergo. Quitting can improve the success rate of surgery.

If you are diagnosed with lung cancer…here are some QUESTIONS TO ASK THE DOCTOR

What type of lung cancer do I have?

Can you explain my pathology report (laboratory test results) to me?

What stage is the lung cancer? What does this mean?

Would you explain my treatment options? What clinical trials are open to me?

What treatment plan do you recommend? Why?

What is the goal of each treatment? Is it to eliminate the cancer, help me feel

better, or both?

Who will be part of my treatment team, and what does each member do?

Besides treating my cancer, what can be done to manage my symptoms?

How will this treatment affect my daily life? Will I be able to work, exercise, and

perform my usual activities?

What long-term side effects may be associated with my cancer treatment?

If I'm worried about managing the costs related to my cancer care, who can help

me with this concern?

Where can I find emotional support for me and my family?

Whom should I call for questions or problems?

1 800 LUNGUSA or 1 800 586 4872.

Lung Cancer Alliance

American Cancer Society
800-ACS-2345 (800-227-2345)

American Psychosocial Oncology Society
866-APOS-4-HELP (866-276-7443)

Some celebrities who succumbed to lung cancer

Peter Jennings, news anchor
Steve McQueen, actor
George Harrison, a Beatle
Bing Crosby, singer
Lou Rawls, singer
John Wayne, actor
Warren Zevon, singer-songwriter
Vincent Price, actor
Beverly Sills, opera singer
Donna Summer, pop singer



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