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Lung Cancer Awareness Month

November marks the start of Lung Cancer Awareness month. As many people may know, lung cancer is extremely prevalent, and in fact, lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in the entire United States. Gunnison Valley Health is partnering with Living Journeys to raise awareness of local prevention and treatment options.

The American Cancer Society estimates 236,740 new cases of lung cancer in 2022, with an estimated death toll of 130,180. In Colorado alone they estimate 2550 new cases with 1330 deaths.

There are three main types of lung cancer. The two main types are small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). A third less common type of lung cancer is called carcinoid.

Lung cancer doesn’t typically come with any signs or symptoms until the cancer is advanced. Since it doesn’t come with signs and symptoms, it’s important to communicate your health history with your primary care doctor. They will evaluate your risk level and determine if you need diagnostic imaging.

Signs and symptoms of lung cancer are a cough that doesn't go away and gets worse over time, hoarseness, constant chest pain, shortness of breath or wheezing and frequent lung infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

Gunnison Valley Health’s Diagnostic Imaging department offers a low-dose CT scan (LDCT) lung screening to identify lung cancer. Research has shown that using LDCT scans to screen people at higher risk of lung cancer saved more lives compared to chest x-rays. For higher risk people, getting yearly LDCT scans before symptoms start helps lower the risk of dying from lung cancer.

There are risk factors for lung cancer – but the most prevalent one is smoking. Smoking causes about 90 percent of lung cancer cases. Secondhand smoke is also a risk factor, as well as radon, hazardous materials and particle pollution. Patients with COPD also have an increased risk of lung cancer.

Gunnison Valley Health offers programs to help you stop smoking. To learn more about these programs you can contact the Gunnison Valley Health Respiratory Therapy department at 970-641-7295. You can order radon tests online at It is also important to make sure your place of work is free from hazardous gases or pollutants. If you cannot avoid these dangers, ensure you use proper Personal Protective Equipment.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with lung cancer and needs support during the treatment process, contact Living Journeys at 970-349-2777.