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What are my chances of having lung cancer

By Anonymous January 12, 2009 - 4:01pm
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I am 39 years old, been smoking since I was 11. I have had chest pain for years. I had cardiac tests, but nothing. My xrays have been clear (although it has been a years since my last one). I had a VQ scan which showed low probability of a blood clot. Recently my shoulder, clavicle, chest and arm has been hurting and burning...I am really scared and I do not have insurance at this point. Please give me some advice.

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I wanted to provide you with some hope, motivation and good news! When you quit smoking...you can see immediate AND long-term benefits:

When smokers quit -- What are the benefits over time?

- 20 minutes after quitting: Your heart rate and blood pressure drops.
- 12 hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
- 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: Your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
- 1 to 9 months after quitting: Coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.
- 1 year after quitting: The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker's.
- 5 years after quitting: Your stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker 5 to 15 years after quitting.
- 10 years after quitting: The lung cancer death rate is about half that of a continuing smoker's. The risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas decrease, too.
- 15 years after quitting: The risk of coronary heart disease is the same as a non-smoker's.

Source: American Cancer Society for resources/bibliography

January 13, 2009 - 3:32pm

Dear Anon, two new studies published in Scientific America link a variation in a gene residing on chromosome 15 (of a person's 23 pairs of chromosomes) to a heightened risk of developing lung cancer; a third study suggests that the same mutation affects a person's tendency to become addicted to smoke and, by extension, develop the dreaded disease. Lung cancer is diagnosed in some 200,000 Americans and kills more than 150,000 each year.

You may or may not have this genetic variation but why gamble your life? Your symptoms are telling you something is not right. There are many other diseases listed by the Surgeon General of the United States linked to smoking, here are a few:

1. Cancers of the cervix, kidney, esophagus, throat, bladder, pancreas and stomach;

2. Abdominal aortic aneurysms,

3. Acute myeloid leukemia,

4. Cataracts,

5. Pneumonia

6. Chronic lung disease

7. Cardiovascular diseases

Dr Carmona, a former Surgeon General of the United States used to say: "smoking causes disease in nearly every organ in the body at every stage of life"

Your posting ended with: "Please give me some advice", so here is mine, I think you have been blessed with what it may be a great genetic make up. But your body has been telling you for years that you may have pushed it too far. I think it is time for you to prevent more damage in your body by making some choices. I wish you well.

January 13, 2009 - 12:22am

Hey Anon, It is scary to be experiencing that type of pain but we have contacted a specialist in lung cancer and a phenomenal cardiologist on your behalf.

Heart expert Himanshu Shukla had this to say about your question...

"More than likely this is musculoskeletal discomfort but given that you have had a history of smoking I would highly recommend to repeat the cardiac testing if it has been awhile, or if the symptoms have changed, or if they are worse. Most importantly take advantage of this opportunity and try to prevent behavior for developing heart like smoking, watching your blood pressure, prevention of being overweight, increasing your activity (of course wait to be cleared by your doctor prior to engaging in an exercise program), etc. "

From Regina Regina Vidaver, Ph.D. and Executive Director of the National Lung Cancer Partnership in Madison, Wis.

"Your situation illustrates the challenges of a life without health insurance. The best possible course of action for you is to first get health insurance, whether it be through Medicaid or through your state insurance pool. If you are having any challenges accessing information on how to get such insurance, your state representatives should be able to help you.

The second, incredibly important thing for you to do is to get the help you need to quit smoking. You can call 1-800-QUITNOW to speak with a trained individual to help you formulate a plan for how and when you will quit, and provide you the support mechanisms so you can do so successfully. This is the single most important thing you can do to protect your health.

It is possible that once you quit smoking that your pain will subside or cease; one of the side-effects of smoking is narrowing of the arteries, and it is possible that the symptoms you feel are due to such narrowing. On the other hand, it is possible that your symptoms are indicative of a tumor somewhere. The best way to diagnose such a condition is with a CT scan. One way to get a CT scan without insurance is by participating in the following clinical trial: http://www.ielcap.org/index.htm You would have to pay out-of-pocket for the scan itself, which is usually in the range of $300, but you would be assured appropriate follow-up care."

Also from the National Lung Cancer Alliance, here are a list of symptoms.

* "a cough that won't go away
* recurring respiratory infections such as pneumonia
* chest, shoulder or back pain that won't go away
* unexplained wheezing
* shortness of breath or hoarseness
* coughing up blood
* swelling in the neck or face
* difficulty swallowing
* unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite
* increasing fatigue or weakness
* unexplained recurrent headaches
* seizures
* bone pain"

Are you experiencing these?

You may also find this information on lung cancer risks helpful ...
Who is at risk?

What every woman should know about lung cancer

Does that help?

January 12, 2009 - 5:14pm
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