Lung cancer is the deadliest cancer for Oklahoma men and women, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While experts still have much to research regarding this disease, strides have been made in recent decades to learn more about what causes lung cancer and what may be done to help prevent or lessen its impacts. In observance of Lung Cancer Awareness Month this November, SSM Health St. Anthony is offering tips and insights to help Oklahomans reduce their risks of the disease.

“Lung diseases, including lung cancer, can be among the most serious medical conditions,” said Dr. Tabitha Danley, Regional Chief Medical Informatics Officer/Medical Director for Innovation and Transformation for SSM Health Medical Group in Oklahoma. “Even those who may never have smoked can be at risk, so it’s best for everyone to be educated and aware.”

There are two categories of lung cancer: small cell, which is more aggressive, and non-small cell, which is more common. Treatments for both types of cancer are determined for each patient by their oncologist but may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and other therapies. Symptoms may include persistent cough, coughing of blood or excessive phlegm, upper body pain, shortness of breath, recurrences of fluid build-up, recurrences of pneumonia and more. Licensed health care providers can help provide a diagnosis.

“As in most matters, you can advocate for your own health by developing a good relationship with your medical provider, scheduling regular check-ups and speaking up if you notice changes in your health,” Danley said. “Talk to your doctor about whether you might be a good candidate for a lung cancer screening, as catching cancer early can often lead to better outcomes for patients.”

Populations that are considered higher risk for development of lung cancer include individuals who have had lung cancer before, those with a family history of cancer, those who have smoked tobacco, those exposed routinely to secondhand smoke and those who have had exposure to chest radiation or known carcinogens such as asbestos or radon.

If you would like to learn more about a new lung cancer screening available through SSM Health, please call 405-772-4400. Free online health risk assessments are also offered online to help Oklahomans gauge their lung cancer risk at: https://www.ssmhealth.com/cancer/lung-cancer/health-risk-assessment

If you are a smoker who would like to lower your risk for lung cancer and other dangerous diseases, speak with your health care provider about tobacco cessation or call the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

About SSM Health in Oklahoma  

SSM Health in Oklahoma includes St. Anthony Hospital (Oklahoma City); Bone & Joint Hospital at St. Anthony (Oklahoma City); St. Anthony South (Oklahoma City), SSM Health Outpatient Center (Oklahoma City) and St. Anthony Hospital - Shawnee (Shawnee, Okla.). The SSM Health network in Oklahoma also includes four SSM Health St. Anthony Healthplex campuses, a community freestanding ER (El Reno, Okla.), 16 affiliated hospitals, and SSM Health Medical Group with more than 250 physicians and providers.