February is National Cancer Prevention Month, during which Americans are tasked with taking charge of their health and educating themselves on lifestyle factors that help reduce the risk of cancer. Our lung cancer and mesothelioma lawyers highlight the top prevention news we learned this month.
Benefits and Harms of Cancer Prevention
There are dozens of “official guidelines and recommendations” for preventing various types of cancer. All cancer societies such as the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and the American Cancer Society release their own guidelines to the public. Many of the recommendations overlap, but many criticize that these guidelines are not properly explained, researched, or supported.
One study looked at all screening and prevention recommendations from these various cancer societies. Researchers found that nearly 70% of these recommendations either did not explain the pros and cons of the methods all or otherwise failed to give the full picture.
This study proved what we already know: the medical establishment needs to improve the way it presents cancer guidelines and recommendations, so the public can better understand and implement them into their lives. Explaining the benefits and harms of their guidelines would give doctors and patients access to information that they so badly need. It will also help patients make informed decisions about their own care.
PET Scans Overused, Show No Improvement in Survival
One of these not-fully-understood guidelines, for lung cancer patients specifically, is the use of PET (positron emission tomography) scans during treatment. PET scans are often used to determine what stage cancer is in and to monitor the tumor growth. For patients in remission, doctors often use PET scans to check for cancer recurrence, even if the patient is not experiencing any symptoms.
There is no evidence that PET scans improve survival among patients in remission, however. This is important, because there are very real and proven risks to PET scans. Before a PET scan, the patient must have a radioactive drug put into their body, exposing them not only to small amounts of radiation, but also to other potential side effects. These include major allergic reactions, radiation exposure to unborn babies, and radiation exposure to children who are breastfeeding.
Researchers recently analyzed data to see if PET scans actually benefitted lung cancer patients in remission. They found no association between PET scans and improved survival. They noted that their findings suggest PET scans are overused to detect cancer recurrence.
New Cancer Prevention Findings
The American Cancer Society recently detailed three studies published in 2015 regarding prevention methods for colon, lung and liver cancer. The lung cancer study looked at tobacco consumption in low- and middle-income countries, which consume more than 80% of all tobacco products. Researchers examined exactly how this affects citizens of these countries and how governments are responding to the epidemic.
According to Tobacco Atlas, if smoking patterns continue as they are now, tobacco-related deaths will number around one billion in the 21st century. The tobacco industry not only kills thousands of people per day, but the impact on climate change, forest fires, and deforestation is enormous, and only continues to grow.
In the U.S. alone, tobacco companies spend nearly $1 million an hour to market their products. Other countries have been much more successful in effecting meaningful policy changes to reduce the devastating impact of tobacco. About one-third of all countries require cigarettes to have graphic images showing the reality of smoking-related illnesses like esophageal cancer. Many countries have placed bans on marketing of any kind by tobacco products.
Asbestos and Lung Cancer
Far too many people don't know about the relationship between smoking and exposure to toxins in the workplace. Separately, smoking cigarettes and workplace exposure are very dangerous. When combined, the effects on health are astounding and catastrophic. Take asbestos for example.
Construction and extraction workers have the highest rates of smoking prevalence in the U.S. These employees are also extremely vulnerable to inhaling asbestos fibers through the maintenance, demolition, or renovation of asbestos-containing products. Asbestos is present everywhere: from floor tiles to ceiling tiles, from pipe insulation to joint compounds.
To learn more about the relationship between asbestos, smoking, workplace exposure, and lung cancer, visit our website, here. We represent lung cancer patients nationwide get the justice they deserve. Contact our team of lung cancer attorneys for a free consultation.