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lthough lung cancer rates have dropped among white males during the past decade, the rate among white females and black males and females has begun to slow, but still continues to be a pervasive threat. Lung cancer caused an estimated 164,000 deaths in 2000. Since 1987, more women died from lung cancer than from breast cancer, which for over 40 years had been the major cause of cancer deaths in women. Today, lung cancer continues to be the leading cancer killer for both men and women. As smoking rates have declined over the past 30 years, however, we have seen significant declines in male lung cancer. But these rates are not dropping as quickly among women. Another cause for concern is that although adult smoking rates have declined, tobacco use among youth is again on the rise.Symptoms of lung cancer include a persistent cough, blood-streaked sputum, chest pain, and recurrent attacks of pneumonia or bronchitis. Treatment depends on the type and stage of the cancer. Surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy are all treatment options. If the cancer is localized, surgery is usually the treatment of choice. If the cancer has spread, surgery is used in combination with radiation and chemotherapy. Unfortunately, despite advances in medical technology, survival rates for lung cancer have improved only slightly over the past decade. Just 13 percent of lung cancer patients live five or more years after diagnosis. These rates improve to 47 percent with early detection, but only 15 percent of lung cancers are discovered in their early stages of development.
Prevention Smokers, especially those who have smoked for over 20 years, and people who have been exposed to certain industrial substances such as arsenic and asbestos or to radiation from occupational, medical, or environmental sources are at the highest risk for lung cancer. The American Cancer Society estimated that in 2000, over 430,000 cancer deaths were caused by tobacco use and an additional 20,000 cancer deaths were related to alcohol use, frequently in combination with tobacco use. Exposure to sidestream cigarette smoke, known as environmental tobacco smoke or ETS, increases the risk for nonsmokers. Some researchers have theorized that as many as 90 percent of all lung cancers could be avoided if people did not smoke. Substantial improvements in overall prognosis have been noted in smokers who quit at the first signs of precancerous cellular changes and allowed their bronchial linings to return to normal.*14/277/5*

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