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It's never too late to stop smoking to reap health benefits

November 16th is the Great American Smokeout, a day designated by the American Cancer Society to get people to quit smoking.

Dr. Steven Leh, a pulmonologist with Aurora Health Care says no matter what a patient's age, he urges them to quit.

"We know for a fact that smoking is the leading cause of cancer and the leading cause of death by cancer," Dr Leh told the CBS 58 News at 4. "Think about all the other organs involved and diseases that are made worse by smoking."

Smoking is the predominant risk. 

But Dr. Leh says you also have to look at environmental factors these days, including exposure to Radon and Asbestos.

When it comes to screening for lung cancer, in recent years, doctors have been using a low dose CT scan of the lungs.

"It's shown a reduction in cancer mortality with early detection."

But how early is early?

Long before symptoms show up.

Unfortunately, the majority of patients will not have symptoms until the disease is advanced. 80% are diagnosed after it is no longer localized.

You have to be least 55 to qualify for the low dose CT scan.

Second hand smoke is not as significant a risk, but is also a risk factor.

When it comes to vaping, it's just too early. There's not enough research to say definitively what the risk factors are.

But Dr. Leh keeps it simple.

"You're inhaling something that doesn't belong in your lungs. Just don't do it."

For more information specifically related to cancer click here 

 Here is additional information as provided by Aurora Health Care:

What are any signs or symptoms that you should be screened for lung cancer?

·A cough that does not go away or gets worse
·Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum (spit or phlegm)
·Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing
·Hoarseness
·Weight loss and loss of appetite
·Shortness of breath
·Feeling tired or weak
·Infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia that don't go away or keep coming back
·New onset of wheezing
·That's what makes screenings so important, especially for smokers or people who have been around a lot smokers.

Screening technology has come a long way, right? How has technology helped physicians like yourself help people?

·Technology has certainly continued to improve in how we can help people, especially imaging
·At Aurora Health Care, we follow the recommendation of the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) and use low-dose, non-contrast chest computed tomography (CT).
·This technology helps us more accurately see what's going on and put together treatment options.
·If something concerning is found on your screening CT, you'll be seamlessly connected with Aurora professionals who will support you every step of the way.

What does screening look like and who should be screened?
·Nationally established guidelines recommend screening for individuals who are:
§Age 55 to 77 and have smoked one pack a day or more for 30 years (or equivalent).
§Asymptomatic, or do not show any signs or symptoms of lung cancer.
·You will need an order from your primary care provider to receive a lung CT scan.
·The lung CT scan is covered by most insurance plans and mandated by the Affordable Care Act.
·Your lung cancer screening involves a low-dose, non-contrast chest computed tomography (CT) scan. It does not cause any pain.
·You will lie very still on a table while the table passes through the center of a large X-ray machine (or the X-ray machine passes over the table).
·You may hear a whirring sound during the procedure.
·You may be asked to hold your breath to prevent blurring of the images.
·The procedure usually lasts only a few minutes to a half hour.


When will I get my results?
·After your scan, you will receive a letter in the mail within seven days with your results.
·Based on the scan findings, this letter may include follow-up recommendations from one of our cancer care specialists that will also be shared with your primary care doctor.


What advice do you have for people listening about the usage of tobacco and the importance of screening?
·Quit simply, tobacco is not a good thing for your body, and you should quit and avoid second hand smoke.
·There are a lot of resources out there to help you.
·Places like Aurora offer regular screenings and support classes to quit, and there are also other groups like Smokefree.gov and the Great American Smokeout



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