Lung cancer, a leading cause of cancer-related deaths for both men and women, is a common problem seen by Dr. Benjamin Laracuente and his team at Tri-State Pulmonary. When we treat patients for lung cancer, we’re by their side for the long haul. From the initial diagnosis to staging through treatment, managing symptoms and complications, and any necessary palliative or end-of-life care, we provide compassionate patient-focused care and personalized treatment.

Dr. Laracuente will lead and/or closely collaborate with medical oncologists, thoracic surgeons, radiologists, physicians, and nurses to ensure you’re receiving the very best course of lung cancer treatment from a multi-disciplined team. We will monitor the results of treatments and make sure all related symptoms, as well as side effects from treatments, are properly managed.

Despite the fact that lung cancer is still the leading cause of cancer mortalities throughout the world, Dr. Laracuente wholeheartedly believes that ongoing developments in lung cancer screening, staging, medication development, and molecular diagnostics will result in much fewer lung cancer deaths in the future. Early diagnosis is the key.

What Are the Causes & Risk Factors for Lung Cancer?

  • Smoking – Roughly 90% of lung cancers can be attributed to tobacco smoking – this includes cigarettes, cigars, and pipes. Smokers are 15 to 30 times more likely to develop lung cancer and die from the disease than nonsmokers. Risk increases the more years a person smokes and the more cigarettes they smoke each day. While cigarette-smoking rates have decreased throughout the United States, far too many people continue to smoke in Western PA and the Beaver County area. This is particularly problematic since exposure to secondhand smoke is also a leading lung cancer risk factor. Smoking rates among young women are also much higher than we’d like to see.
  • Radon – Radon is a naturally occurring odorless gas that can seep into houses and buildings from the ground the structure was built on. It’s estimated that one in every 15 U.S. homes have high radon levels and the EPA highly recommends home radon tests due to their projection that up to 20,000 lung cancer cases annually are linked to exposure to radon.
  • Other Substances – Each day workers are potentially exposed to lung cancer causing substances such as asbestos, diesel exhaust, and arsenic at their workplace. Additionally, air pollution and toxins in the soil or water in heavy industrial areas put the general public at risk.
  • Personal/Family History – Lung cancer survivors are at risk of having their cancer return. There is also a higher risk if your parents or siblings have ever had lung cancer, although this may be more coincidental (radon, pollution, or secondhand smoke exposure) than hereditary.
  • Diet/Exercise – The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) has estimated that up to 40% of cancers could be prevented with a healthier diet (more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and less sugary drinks, red meats, and processed meats) and moderate exercise. Additionally, cigarette smokers should stay clear of supplements with large amounts of beta-carotene and vitamin E.

Common Symptoms of Lung Cancer
Although lung cancer is often diagnosed with little to no symptoms, people with lung cancer may present the following symptoms:

  • Chronic cough that sometimes produces blood or a rust colored spit or phlegm
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Bone pain
  • Chest pain/discomfort that worsens with deep breaths, coughing episodes, or laughing
  • Wheezing
  • Persistent hoarseness
  • Unexplained loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Fingernail clubbing

Lung cancer is often broadly classified into two primary types – small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

SCLC makes for about 15 percent of lung cancer cases. It’s almost always tied to cigarette smoking. While it grows and spreads rapidly, it is also much more responsive to chemotherapy.

NSCLC cases make up 85 percent of lung cancer cases, with adenocarcinoma being the most common. In the absence of symptoms, or in the event of a misdiagnosis of symptoms such as a cough or fatigue, early-stage lung cancers (stages 1 and 2) aren’t detected very much. For this reason, most lung cancers are diagnosed at stages 3 or 4.

Early Detection Reduces Mortality – Contact Us Today

Dr. Laracuente recommends lung cancer screening for high-risk long-term smokers and anyone that has worked with asbestos. Diagnostic imaging such as a chest x-ray, low dose CT scan of the chest, or a PET-CT scan may be ordered if lung cancer is suspected. Additional testing such as sputum cytology, lung biopsy, and a bronchoscopy may be needed to confirm a lung cancer diagnosis.