Lung Cancer: Symptoms and diagnosis

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Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined.  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.

The medical field has been working hard to discover effective screening methods for the disease. Cone Health is in the early stage of introducing a screening program using low-dose computerized tomography (CT) scans to aid in the early detection and diagnosis of lung cancer in asymptomatic patients.  According to the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) results released by the National Cancer Institute in 2011, screening individuals  (in the appropriate high-risk patient population) with low-dose CT scans could reduce lung cancer mortality by 20 percent compared to screening with regular chest x-rays.

Because lung cancer treatment must be individualized for each patient, Cone Health takes a multidisciplinary, integrated approach to treating the disease.  Patients are given access to the appropriate care management from 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.

Physician Background:

Dr. Robert Byrum is a pulmonologist at LeBauer Pulmonary Care at Elam and a member of the Cone Health Medical Group. Dr. Byrum is a 2000 medical school graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  He completed his residency in internal medicine at the University of Virginia Medical Center and completed a fellowship in pulmonary sciences and critical care medicine at University of Colorado Medical Center.