Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women. Symptoms of lung cancer may include an unexplained cough, especially with blood, unexplained chest pain and unexplained weight loss. However, these can also be symptoms of other illnesses. Unfortunately, symptoms of lung cancer usually do not appear until the disease is already in an advanced, non-curable stage.
85% of lung cancer patients are smokers or former smokers. If you smoke, STOP now! Also, be sure to avoid exposure to second-hand smoke and other known carcinogens. Radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas, is the second leading cause of lung cancer in this country and is the leading cause among non-smokers. It is also important to become educated on other risk factors for lung cancer and to consult with your physician about getting screened if you fall into the high-risk group.
You can’t see, taste, or smell radon gas, but you can buy a kit that will test your home for the presence of radon from local distributors or online.
Because lung cancer treatment must be individualized for each patient, Cone Health takes a multidisciplinary, integrated approach to treating the disease. As a nurse navigator, I help expedite patient care, which is really important when it comes to fast-paced diseases like lung cancer. Our goal is to avoid any delay that we can and make a complicated process easier to navigate. I help patients with almost all aspects of their care, from scheduling appointments to organizing treatment plans, transportation or insurance claims. At the Cone Health Cancer Center, patients are given access to a dedicated team of pulmonologists, surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, and other cancer-related medical professionals to develop the best treatment plan for each, individual patient.
Smoking cessation plays an important role in the care management plan for lung cancer or lung disease. Cone Health provides free programs to help participants quit smoking.
Dana Herndon is the thoracic oncology nurse navigator at Cone Health Cancer Center and a facilitator for the QuitSmart smoking cessation program. Dana received an Associates Degree in nursing from Guilford Technical Community College in 1994 and Bachelor of Science in nursing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2013. Dana has been with Cone Health for 20 years.