Health Beat

Health Beat: Lung cancer myths

Health Beat: Lung cancer myths

ORLANDO, Fla. - Sharon Rutka was diagnosed with lung cancer after a routine chest X-ray.

"The nurse said they found a spot on my lungs," Rutka recalled.

That spot was lung cancer.

"I mean, I was worried. I don't have time for this," Rutka said.

Luckily, Rutka's cancer was caught early. One big myth about lung cancer is that if you have it, you'll die within a few months.

"If you find it early, 80 percent of lung cancers can be cured," said Dr. Raja Flores of the Icahn School of Medicine Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

The problem is lung cancer is often caught too late, which leads to another myth, that there are no symptoms. Doctors say there are signs to watch for: a cough that doesn't go away, chest pain, weight loss, coughing up blood, or infections like bronchitis or pneumonia that keep coming back.

Another false belief is that only smokers get lung cancer.

"Everyone automatically assumes smoking, lung cancer, but no. There's a good number that can have cancers that have never smoked," said Flores.

While smoking does increase your risk, more than 40,000 cases of lung cancer are diagnosed each year in non-smokers.

The last myth is that quitting smoking won't help. It's not true. Ten years after quitting the habit, your risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who still smokes.

Here's an interesting fact: Black men are about 20 percent more likely to develop lung cancer than white men, but the rate is about 10 percent lower in black women than in white women.


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