February is National Cancer Prevention Month, and with this in mind, a group of motivated students at McNeil High School has issued a call for everyone to learn more about lung cancer prevention. 

“Since February is designated as Cancer Prevention Month, it is a great time for these students to educate and bring awareness to the community, so people can be aware of their own risk factors, make changes in their lifestyle, and seek screening if indicated,” said Dr. Allison Gorrebeeck, an oncologist with Austin Cancer Centers. “There are estimated to be 224,000 new lung cancer cases and 159,000 deaths from lung cancer in 2014. These statistics are even more alarming when you consider that 90 percent of cases are associated with tobacco use, which is a preventable risk factor.”

Dr. Gorrebeeck continued, saying that, “Research shows at least half of all cancers are likely preventable. Some of the common modifiable risk factors include: obesity, tobacco, lack of exercise and unhealthy diet.”

The students are members of the HOSA (Health Occupation Students of America) organization. This year, the group made it their goal to help spread awareness of lung cancer to their community. What follows is a message from the students:

Today, lung cancer is the most common cancer killer in the world and takes more lives than the next top four cancers combined, including prostate, pancreas, breast and colon cancer. However, recent surveys show that many people do not know exactly what causes lung cancer, how to prevent it or that there are different types of lung cancer.

It seems our community knows too little about one of the most fatal cancers in the U.S. For example, consider the popular myth that smoking alone causes lung cancer. Of course, smoking often does cause cancer, but it is certainly not the only cause. Every year, 16,000 to 24,000 Americans who have never smoked die of lung cancer. In fact, if lung cancer in non-smokers had its own separate category, it would rank among the top 10 fatal cancers in the U.S.

Next to smoking, one of the main causes of lung cancer is second-hand smoke, which leads to more than 3,000 deaths from lung cancer each year. Lung cancer is often discovered in late stages, and this is why it is important to know how to prevent it. Perhaps the most effective action one can take is to stay away from smoking and second-hand smoke. We can also keep our lungs healthy by eating a diet full of fruit and vegetables and getting plenty of exercise.

Even spreading a little bit of knowledge about lung cancer can help protect ourselves, impact others and create a healthier community! 

–Submitted by Anjali N., Misbah A., Aanandya M. and Yeonseo J.

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