When it comes to lung cancer, the numbers do all the talking. It is responsible for more deaths than breast, ovarian, uterine, colon, prostate and brain cancers combined.
Dennis Tishko, M.D., has been a thoracic surgeon for 25 years and has become quite passionate about treating and preventing the disease. According to Tishko, the most significant risk factor for lung cancer is smoking, but recent years have seen an increase in patients who do not smoke.
"Sadly, lung cancer accounts for five times more deaths than breast cancer," said Tishko. "But we do not talk about it regularly and 95 percent of the population is not being screened for the disease."
Not only is lung cancer the leading cause of cancer deaths, it also shows no significant symptoms until later stages, making early screenings the main source for detection.
"In later stages, patients may present weight loss, wheezing and hemoptysis or coughing blood," said Tishko. "It is a silent killer - you cannot cure something you don't know you have. Early detection can significantly lower the chance of dying from lung cancer."
Screening for lung cancer is a relatively simple process that does not require needles or infusion and only minimal exposure to radiation.
"A CT scan of the area is all that is needed," said Tishko. "As an added benefit, when the scan is performed in the thoracic area, we capture other organs and we often detect other conditions that would have remained otherwise unknown."
Tishko advises everyone age 50 or older, people who have smoked for more than 20 years and anyone exposed to burning chemicals to talk to their doctor about their risks and request a lung cancer screening.
To schedule your lung screening, visit www.browardhealth.org/appointment.