Lung cancer used to be thought of as a man’s disease, but that’s no longer the case. Over the years, the rate of new lung cancer cases for men has dropped 32 percent, while it has risen 94 percent for women. In fact, lung cancer now surpasses breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer death in women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and Porter Health Care System urges women to follow preventive health habits now to help reduce the risk of developing lung cancer.
“One of the biggest things we can do to prevent health issues down the road is to stop smoking. I’m quite good ad reminding my patients about that,” said Geraldine Feria, M.D., who is board certified in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, and practices at Wanatah Primary Care. “Smoking is one issue that we almost don’t associate with women, but it’s actually a growing problem. It’s surprising in light of all the information out there.”
Feria said women need to be the role models for their children as well. “If we tell children not to smoke and proceed to smoke in front of them, it doesn’t set a good example,” she said.
While smoking is not the only cause of lung cancer, it is the most prevalent, directly related to 80 percent of the lung cancer deaths in women in the U.S. each year, reports the American Lung Association.
Women often are so busy caring for their families that they tend to put their own health needs to the side, Feria said.
“We are natural nurturers and caregivers. We usually put ourselves last because there are always things that are more important or grab our attention – our family, careers, chores at home,” she says. “We need to understand that if we take care of ourselves, we also take care of our family. If we live a healthy life, it influences and educates our own family to do the same.”
Ultimately, Feria says women need to be their own health advocate. “Women need to educate themselves. That’s always been how I think of empowering oneself. Know what you need to do and go do it.”
To assist people on the path to stop smoking, Smokefree.gov has innovative support systems, including apps and a self-subscription texting services so those who want to quit can receive encouraging messages via mobile devices. You can also call 1-800-Quit-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
Another resource offered at Porter Regional Hospital to assist with the early detection of lung cancer is the CT Lung Cancer Screening Program. For information to help you learn whether you qualify for Lung CT screening, visit PorterHealth.com and click on Medical Services, then Cancer Care, then CT Lung Cancer Screening. The decision on whether to receive Lung CT screening should be made with your primary care provider, and a referral is necessary.
To contact Feria, visit PorterPhysicianGroup.com or call her office at 219-733-2755.