Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death

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August 8, 2005

Albany-- Dr. Jose Tongol treats cancer patients on a daily basis at Phoebe Putney but his real knowledge of the disease comes on a personal level. "My mom died of lung cancer and she never smoked," says Dr. Tongol.

He says second-hand smoke was the cause of her death so first-hand smokers should beware. "It's the number cause of lung cancer in women and men, smokers," says Tongol. Hospitals treat thousands of new lung cancer patients each year. The disease is so serious that many of those new cases lead to death.

"When you go down, especially stage four is very serious meaning more than likely you'll die from the disease. Only five to ten percent survive," says Tongol. According to the the American Cancer Society, this year there will be over 170,000 new cases of lung cancer. About 93,000 men and nearly 80,000 women will be diagnosed. Of those cases, there will be an estimated 163,000 deaths.

"It's smoking, smoking, smoking and bad lifestyles," says Tongol. Dr. Tongol says the way to change these lifestyles begins with the obvious. "Avoid smoking, healthy lifestyle, exercise. The next thing of course is eating the right foods."

Although the disease mainly occurs in the elderly, Tongol says those ages are getting younger because more people are picking up cigarettes. "Kids who smoke usually see their Dad smoke. It's influence of society not genetics." But he hopes that a public figure like Peter Jennings will be an example. "I feel terrible because these are preventable diseases. We can prevent it," says Tongol.

Jennings is proof that it can affect anyone, at any age or race and awareness should begin in every city. "We're instrumental here in Albany promoting smoke-free places which is very good for our society," says Tongol. Doctors are using personal and public examples to get the word out.

Dr. Tongol says that people as young as 35 or 40 can develop the disease. He says that even though Peter Jennings quit smoking twenty years ago, he was still at risk because he smoked for so long and began smoking again a few years ago. Nearly 60 percent of people diagnosed with lung cancer die within a year of diagnosis. Nearly 75 percent die within two years.

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