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Lung Cancer is a deadly disease. Until recently, a chest X-ray, often used only after patients developed symptoms, discovered the disease when it was in its late stages. Over the past few years, however,  an effective and safe screening test has been developed and those who are at high risk for lung cancer can now be screened annually using low-dose spiral CT scans.

Lung Cancer Facts:

FACT 1: Each year over 250,000 people in the United States are newly diagnosed with lung cancer.

FACT 2:  90% of individuals who have lung cancer will eventually die of the disease, making lung cancer the most deadly cancer in the United States for both men and women. 

FACTS 3:  85% of all lung cancers are caused by smoking.

FACT 4:  According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, 22% of people aged 18 years and older residing in Northeastern, PA smoke.  

FACT 5: The best prevention measures are; not smoking or using tobacco products, and avoid second-hand smoke or high air pollution environments.

One of the reasons for the high mortality rate in lung cancer is that the disease is often not discovered until it is advanced and treatment options are limited. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of lung cancer are easily mistaken either for a mild illness or for things such as “smoker’s cough”.  By the time many patients are diagnosed, their disease is advanced and may involve lymph nodes or other organs. 

For some cancers, there are established screening tests that help to identify these cancers at an earlier stage.  For example, routine screenings through colonoscopies, mammograms, and pap smears are well established and have saved thousands of lives.  Historically, lung cancer has not had such a screening test. This however, is about to change. This past summer, the United States Preventative Task Force (USPTF), an independent committee charged by congress to evaluate the most current data and make recommendations for disease screening, released a draft of a new proposal for a lung cancer screening test.

The USPTF now recommends that all persons who are at high risk for lung cancer should be screened annually using low-dose spiral CT scans.  High risk persons are identified as those who are between the ages of 55 and 79, who have a history of 30 pack years or more of smoking, and who are either still smoking or who have quit within the last 15 years.  A “pack year” is defined as smoking 1 pack of cigarettes a day for a year. For example, a person could have 30 pack years of smoking if they smoke 1 pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years.  Similarly, they could have a 30 pack year history by smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day for 15 years.

CT, or computed tomography, scans are a form of three-dimensional imaging used by clinicians to visualize the organs and other anatomy of patients.  The scan can detect abnormalities on a patient’s lung with much earlier and with greater sensitivity than an x-ray.  Much like a mammogram, low-dose CT scans do not diagnose cancer but are a way to identify patients with abnormalities that need to be investigated further for the possibility of cancer.  This new screening test will allow physicians to see possibly cancerous abnormalities of the lung before the disease can spread and become impossible to cure.  The scan is non-invasive and generally considered very safe. Low-dose CT scans carry about 5 times less radiation than traditional high-dose CT scans and are equivalent to about 15 x-rays.

It is projected that this new screening practice will save the lives of between 15 and 20% of those diagnosed with lung cancer by detecting cancers before they can progress to the point that they are resistant to medical treatment.  The draft of the new proposal for lung cancer screening that the USPTF released this summer was based off of a landmark article in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2011. Once the final document is published, clinicians will be encouraged to adopt these screening practices and insurance companies will use these recommendations to adopt their policies regarding coverage for testing.

While this screening is a major step in the detection and treatment of lung cancer, it is not a substitute for quitting smoking.  The best proven methods to prevent lung cancer and its deadly consequences is to not smoke, use other tobacco products, and avoid exposure to second-hand smoke.

If you or a loved one need help quitting tobacco products, you may contact your physician or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit www.lung.org.  For more information on the new lung cancer screening guidelines visit: www.cdc.gov

Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer:

NOTE: These signs and symptoms can be attributed to many different causes and are not exclusive to lung cancer. Always discuss your symptoms with your physician.

Who should be included in annual low-dose spiral CT screening for lung cancer?

Patients who fit all of the below criteria:

*A pack year is defined as 1 pack of cigarettes per day for a year

Medical Contributor: Sarah Bashaw, MD is a graduate of TCMC (presently GCSOM).

Medical Reviewer: Greg Cali, DO, Pulmonologist, Dunmore, PA

Read “Health & Exercise Forum” – Every Monday.  This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor  in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.

For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles visit: mackareyphysicaltherapy.com/forum/

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and there is good news to report!

A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association from Harvard has found that regular exercise can improve the survival of patients with breast cancer. I have discussed these findings with local physician, Dr. Christopher Peters of Northeast Radiation Oncology Center and he says that he regularly councils his patients about the value of exercise in the recovery from breast cancer. As found in the study, he recommends aerobic exercise such as walking and/or biking and mild resistance exercise. He also encourages patients to enroll in a formal rehabilitation program, especially to prevent a frozen shoulder if invasive surgery was performed.

Previous studies have shown many benefits of exercise for breast cancer patients including improving immune functioning and controlling depression. However, new research recently presented at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting was the first report to conclude that physical exercise may improve survival in breast cancer patients. Additional studies have shown other benefits of exercise. For example, a study conducted at Vanderbilt University found that women who had high activity levels throughout life were less likely to develop endometrial cancer. At the Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, researchers found that exercise with moderate intensity can reduce serum markers of inflammation (C-reactive protein), which, when elevated, are associated with chronic disease and poor cancer survival.

In the current study, conducted at Harvard University, researchers compared survival rates in women with breast cancer with exercise levels in terms of metabolic equivalent (MET) hours per week. While women with high activity levels of exercise had the best outcomes, even women with moderate exercise benefited.

Benefits of exercise in women with breast cancer:

  • May increase breast cancer survival
  • Lessen risk of endometrial cancer
  • Improved C-reactive protein levels
  • Improve autoimmune function
  • Control Depression
  • Psycho-Social

In conclusion, current research supports the fact that exercise may improve breast cancer survival.  The following guidelines are proposed:

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!”  

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.

Exercise is Important in Prevention

In 2000, President Bill Clinton dedicated March as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. The purpose of this designation is to increase public awareness of the facts about colon cancer – a cancer that is preventable, treatable and has a high survival rate. Regular screening tests, expert medical care and a healthy lifestyle, which includes a proper diet and exercise, are essential for prevention. Several studies have demonstrated that exercise can also help prevent colon cancer. 

The American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be approximately 150,000 new cases of colorectal cancer in 2021. Of these, 52,980 men and women will succumb to the disease. It is the second-leading cause of U.S. cancer deaths for both men and women combined. The good news is incidence and mortality rates are dropping both nationally as well as in northeast Pennsylvania. The bad news is northeast Pennsylvania still has increased incidence and mortality rates when compared to the national average.

The Research

Studies show that prevention of this disease is multifaceted and includes: engaging in daily exercise, eating a low-fat diet with little red meat, avoiding smoking, drinking in moderation and having regular colonoscopy screenings.

Catch It Early

Early detection is the key to survival. Death from colorectal cancer can be eliminated if caught at the earliest signs of disease. Colorectal cancer progresses very slowly, usually over years. It often begins as non-cancerous polyps in the lining of the colon. In some cases, these polyps can grow and become cancerous, often without any symptoms. Some symptoms that may develop are: blood in stool, changes in bowel movement, feeling bloated, unexplained weight loss, feeling tired easily, abdominal pain or cramps, and vomiting. Contact your physician if you have any of these symptoms.

The risk of colon cancer increases with age, as 90 percent of those diagnosed are older than age 50. A family history of colon cancer increases risk. Also, those with benign polyps, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease are at greater risk and should be screened more frequently.

Prevention of Colon Cancer:

How Exercise Prevents Colon Cancer:

The intestine works like a sewage plant, recycling the food and liquid needed by your body. However, it also stores waste prior to disposal. The longer the wastes remain idle in your colon or rectum, the more time toxins have to be absorbed from you waste into the surrounding tissues. One method in which exercise may help prevent colon cancer is to get your body moving, including your intestines. Exercise stimulates muscular contraction called peristalsis to promote movement of waste through your colon.

Exercise to prevent colon cancer does not have to be extreme. A simple increase in daily activity for 15 minutes, two times per day or 30 minutes, once per day is adequate to improve the movement of waste through your colon. This can be simply accomplished by walking, swimming, biking or playing golf, tennis or basketball. For those interested in a more traditional exercise regimen, perform aerobic exercise for 30-45 minutes four to five days per week, with additional sports and activities for the remainder of the time. For those in poor physical condition, begin slowly. Start walking for five to 10 minutes, two to three times per day. Then, add one to two minutes each week until you attain a 30-45 minute goal. 

Medical Contributor: Christopher A. Peters, M.D

Dr. Christopher Peters is a partner of Radiation Medicine Associates of Scranton (RAMAS) and serves as medical director of Northeast Radiation Oncology Centers (NROC). He is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.

Sources: American Cancer Society/Northeast Regional Cancer Institute, and CA Cancer J Clin.

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment.

If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician.

For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles visit: https://mackareyphysicaltherapy.com/forum/

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.

Lung Cancer is a deadly disease. Until recently, there was not an effective and safe screening test. A chest X-ray, often used only after patients developed symptoms, discovered the disease when it was in its late stages. This is about to change. Those who are at high risk for lung cancer can now be screened annually using low-dose spiral CT scans

Lung Cancer Facts:

FACT 1: In 2019 over 225,000 people in the United States were newly diagnosed with lung cancer (615 people/day).

FACT 2:  90% of individuals who have lung cancer will eventually die of the disease, making lung cancer the deadliest cancer in the United States for both men and women (19% 5-year survival rate). 

FACTS 3:  85% of all lung cancers are caused by smoking.

FACT 4:  According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, 22% of people aged 18 years and older residing in Northeastern, PA smoke.  

FACT 5: The best prevention measures are not smoking or using tobacco products and avoid second-hand smoke or high air pollution environments.

One of the reasons for the high mortality rate in lung cancer is that the disease is often not discovered until it is advanced and treatment options are limited. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of lung cancer are easily mistaken either for a mild illness or for things such as “smoker’s cough”.  By the time many patients are diagnosed, their disease is advanced and may involve lymph nodes or other organs. 

For some cancers, there are established screening tests that help to identify these cancers at an earlier stage.  For example, routine screenings through colonoscopies, mammograms, and pap smears are well established and have saved thousands of lives.  Until recently, lung cancer has not had such a screening test.

In 2013, The United States Preventative Task Force (USPTF), an independent committee charged by congress to evaluate current data, recommended that all persons who are at high risk for lung cancer should be screened annually using low-dose spiral CT scans.  High risk persons are identified as those who are between the ages of 55 and 79, who have a history of 30 pack years or more of smoking, and who are either still smoking or who have quit within the last 15 years.  A “pack year” is defined as smoking 1 pack of cigarettes a day for a year. For example, a person could have 30 pack years of smoking if they smoke 1 pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years.  Similarly, they could have a 30-pack year history by smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day for 15 years.

CT, or computed tomography, scans are a form of three-dimensional imaging used by clinicians to visualize the organs and other anatomy of patients.  The scan can detect abnormalities on a patient’s lung with much earlier and with greater sensitivity than an x-ray.  Much like a mammogram, low-dose CT scans do not diagnose cancer but are a way to identify patients with abnormalities that need to be investigated further for the possibility of cancer.  This new screening test will allow physicians to see possibly cancerous abnormalities of the lung before the disease can spread and become impossible to cure.  The scan is non-invasive and generally considered very safe. Low-dose CT scans carry about 5 times less radiation than traditional high-dose CT scans and are equivalent to about 15 x-rays.

This screening practice can save the lives of between 15 and 20% of those diagnosed with lung cancer by detecting cancers before they can progress to the point that they are resistant to medical treatment. While this screening is a major step in the detection and treatment of lung cancer, it is not a substitute for quitting smoking.  The best proven methods to prevent lung cancer and its deadly consequences is to not smoke, use other tobacco products, and avoid exposure to second-hand smoke. If you or a loved one need help quitting tobacco products, you may contact your physician or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit www.lung.org.

Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer:

NOTE: These signs and symptoms can be attributed to many different causes and are not exclusive to lung cancer. Always discuss your symptoms with your physician.

Who should be included in annual low-dose spiral CT screening for lung cancer?

Patients who fit all of the below criteria:

*A pack year is defined as 1 pack of cigarettes per day for a year

Contributions: Sarah Bashaw, MD: participated in this column as a third year medical student while studying at TCMC (GCSOM).

Medical Reviewer: Greg Cali, DO, Pulmonologist, Dunmore, PA

Read “Health & Exercise Forum” – Every Monday.  This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor  in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.

Read all of Dr. Mackarey articles in our Health Care Forum at: https://mackareyphysicaltherapy.com/forum/

✨Mackarey Physical Therapy is looking for a new Physical Therapist! ✨

If you or anyone you know is looking to work in a non-corporate environment, family owned clinic where the patient comes first, please apply today! See details in the link: 

https://www.indeed.com/viewjob?from=socialmediatagsbigj&jk=139851108344bd4a
🧊❄️🧊❄️Excited for the #scranton #icefestival coming up this weekend!! 

Come join us for free SWAG, handouts and Q&A with the MackareyPT team! Friday from 5-7! 

Hope to see you there! ❄️❄️
Happy HOLIDAYS from Mackarey Physical Therapy! We wish all of you a safe and happy holiday with your family! Thanks for being part of our Mackarey PT family!