People gather in November of each year to acknowledge and promote awareness of the difficulties associated with a lung cancer diagnosis. Through this acknowledgment, people and organizations have contributed to improving the lives of lung cancer patients, caregivers, family members, and friends. One way that communities are working together to support patients and spread awareness is through special events and fundraisers.
According to Doctors Nova Scotia, lung cancer is the biggest cause of cancer-related deaths in Canada, killing more Canadians than colon, breast, and prostate cancer combined. The statistics are concerning. When there is minimal possibility of recovery, stage four is when half of all lung malignancies are discovered.
Dr. Alison Wallace, a thoracic surgeon-scientist at the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax, said that the disease doesn’t get the attention it deserves. “It doesn’t attract the same research dollars or interest of other cancers”, she added.
Lung cancer affects non-smokers, too
According to Dr. Wallace, the persistent myth that lung cancer mainly affects smokers has an impact on how people perceive the condition. She also added that people tend to believe that lung cancer wouldn’t be a problem if you didn’t smoke.
One in five new cases of lung cancer in Canada involves a person who has never smoked. Women are more likely than males to develop lung cancer in Canadians under the age of 55.
Environmental exposure at play
Early-stage disease is frequently found while looking for something else. Dr. Wallace shared that they had a patient who had fallen off a horse and trauma scans revealed an early-stage lung cancer.
Many non-smoker cases are caused by environmental factors rather than smoking. Dr. Wallace is investigating potential links between environmental exposures and lung cancer cases, particularly in young women.
Improving care for Nova Scotians
The disease is prevalent in Nova Scotia at some of the highest rates in the nation. Dr. Wallace and her coworkers at the QEII prioritize lung cancer cases in the province. One of six thoracic surgeons offering the service, she assists between 1,200 and 1,500 patients annually.
Better outcomes for Nova Scotians result from having a central triage system for the diagnosis, staging, and treatment of lung cancer. The group will introduce a new lung cancer screening program in the province in 2023.
Leading lung cancer research
Additionally, Dr. Wallace is bridging a knowledge gap in lung cancer research. She is presently researching the connection between radon exposure and lung cancer. The main factor contributing to cancer in non-smokers is radon exposure. In order to estimate long-term lung cancer risk and broaden the scope of screening programs, she is collaborating with the Canadian Environmental Exposures in Cancer (CE2C) Network, Evict Radon, the Lung Association of Nova Scotia, and others to create a trustworthy measure of lifetime radon exposure.
Test for radon in your home
Testing your home is the only way to determine if you have a radon issue. You can purchase test kits online from the Lung Association of Nova Scotia or borrow them from your local library or MLA office. The service is also provided by private businesses.
Excellent care is the goal
Dr. Wallace is eager to see where her research will go in the future. She is committed to giving lung cancer patients in Nova Scotia the finest care she can.
“It’s great to cure people with surgery or even to just help them be more comfortable. We’re here to help them and we want to do our best to better their lives and improve the way lung cancer is diagnosed and treated.”
More to this story at https://www.yourdoctors.ca/blog/health-care/alison-wallace
References and photo credits to: