According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women. Each year, more people die from lung cancer than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. In 2012, there will be an estimated 160,340 lung cancer deaths which equates to approximately 28% of all cancer deaths.
Lung cancer occurs when normal cells within the lungs become abnormal and grow without regulation. It is often caused by environmental or habitual factors that contribute to increasing ones' risk. Cigarette smoking is the primary cause of lung cancer, accounting for nearly 90% of lung cancer deaths worldwide.
Unfortunately, non-smokers can develop lung cancer. Nearly 20% of adults who develop lung cancer have no history of smoking at all. In these cases, the diagnosis is possibly caused by a combination of hereditary factors and exposure to other airborne carcinogens such as asbestos, radon gas, air pollution and second hand smoke.
Lung cancer remains a serious problem and a difficult cancer to cure. Lung cancer treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy or radiation and/or some combination of these three modalities.
At Advanced Radiation Centers of New York (ARC), radiation technologies are being used to improve cure rates and lower side effects for patients with lung cancer. ARC offers many radiation therapies and technologies which are chosen based upon the patients’ specific needs. These include:
- 3D Conformal Radiation Therapy (3D-CRT) – The standard form of radiation that allows for the treatment of tumors in any location, as well as areas such as the mediastinum that may harbor microscopic disease.
- Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) - A type of lung cancer radiation that delivers a focused and shaped field of radiation to the tumor and areas at risk, while sparing normal, healthy neighboring tissue. It provides advantages to 3D-CRT, sparing more normal lung tissue which can be kept out of the high-dose region, causing less risk of damage. It also offers higher doses of radiation, which may increase the cure rate.
- Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) - ARC is the leader in this form of radiation, having treated more than 2,000 patients with Image Guided Radiation Therapy in the last few years alone. The process is used to ensure that the radiation treatments are targeted to the tumor with less collateral damage to adjacent tissues in the chest area.
- Stereotactic Radiosurgery (Trilogy-SRS) - A highly targeted radiation that uses only five treatments or less in a highly focused radiation treatment. ARC is the first on Long Island and Rockland County to use the Trilogy SRS system by Varian Medical Systems.
- Respiratory Gating - During normal breathing, tumors in the lung, breast or abdomen can move up and down, or in and out – pushing the cancer away from the radiation field or putting normal tissue at risk. Respiratory Gating spares normal tissue by opening and closing the radiation beam (like a “gate”), in concert with the breathing cycle.
It is important to remember that improvements in surgical techniques, radiation therapy and chemotherapy continue to make gains every day. Lung cancer is treatable, and a wide variety of options based upon your specific diagnosis are available to you in order to fight back against this disease.