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Doctors using month of November to bring awareness to leading cause of cancer death, lung cancer

Posted at 3:55 PM, Nov 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-20 11:46:45-05

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, with lung cancer being the leading cause of cancer death, according to the CDC.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and health experts say the only way to lower the numbers is by raising awareness.

"I was told one time that you did not find lung cancer until it was too late because you can't feel it and you can't see it," said Patricia Hardy, a lung cancer survivor.

Dr. Bores Murillo from Ascension Providence Hospital says lung cancer should be more openly discussed.

"It is the most lethal cancer in this country. It kills more people than colon, prostate, and breast cancer all together," he said.

Patricia Hardy was diagnosed with Stage 1 lung cancer twice. The first time was seven years ago. Her cancer then returned in June.

Both times, she had no idea she was developing lung cancer. She was first diagnosed after going to the doctor for a different reason.

"My hip started hurting, and so they made me go to the doctor, and they did a CAT scan and found it in my lung," said Hardy.

Dr. Murillo says early detection of lung cancer is the key to winning the battle. However, like Hardy, most people don't know it's developing inside of their body.

"The biggest problem is that when people have symptoms, the stage is far. We want to diagnose people who have lung cancer before they have symptoms," said Dr. Murillo.

So who should get a screening for lung cancer? That depends on your age and whether you are a smoker or not.

Dr. Murillo says the most vulnerable people are between 55 and 80-years-old and are current smokers or have a history of smoking.

"It requires a long time of tobacco use to fit in that risk," he said.

Hardy is a smoker and says she does not believe it was the cause of her cancer.

"I don't. It might just be denial. I do one or two once in a while, but that's it," she said.

Regardless, she is an advocate and encourages people to get tested regularly.

"Just get tested and keep going to the doc even if you just once a year," said Hardy.

Dr. Murillo says smoking is an addiction and understands how difficult it can be to stop smoking. He wants to remind people that there is help and support at Ascension Providence that can lead you in the right direction.