Lung Health & Disease

Lung Health & Disease Articles

Electronic cigarettes

After smoking for over 15 years, I finally quit eight months ago, but I still miss my cigarettes. I recently heard about electronic cigarettes. Are they safe? (Locked) More »

No connection between ARBs and cancer

The Food and Drug Administration has concluded that angiotensin-receptor blocker medications used to treat high blood pressure do not increase the risk of developing lung cancer. (Locked) More »

Finding lung cancer early

Screening people for lung cancer ought to work. Lung cancer is common, relative to other cancers, so you're not looking for a needle in a haystack. If it's caught at a very early stage, it often can be treated effectively with surgery and even cured. Current and former smokers are easy to identify, so focusing on a high-risk group is pretty straightforward. And the technological means to spot suspicious growths and lesions in the lungs has existed for decades with chest x-rays and CT scans  Screening tests are supposed to find diseases before they cause symptoms, but that is just the means to an end. The goal is for fewer people to die from the disease. Several large, well-designed trials of chest x-rays have found that while they do a good job of identifying early lung cancers, that hasn't translated into fewer deaths because by the time an x-ray detects lung cancer it has almost always already spread to other parts of the body. CT scanning can spot lung cancer at an earlier stage than chest x-rays. But can they spot lung cancer early enough, before it has spread, and when it is still curable?  The jury has been out because of the size and design of studies that have been done so far. It takes a very large, well-designed study to get a reliable answer. More »

Coping with shortness of breath

One of the most distressing complications of advanced heart failure is the feeling that you can't get enough air. This shortness of breath — dyspnea — has been defined as "a subjective experience of breathing discomfort" and "an uncomfortable sensation or awareness of breathing." People who have chronic shortness of breath describe it as suffocating, smothering, and hungering for air. Chronic shortness of breath affects millions of people. It also commonly accompanies conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, stroke, muscular dystrophy, and others. Researchers have formulated new guidelines to identify and treat this condition in those who suffer from it. (Locked) More »

Finding lung cancer early

A large study evaluating the effectiveness of using CT scans to screen for lung cancer could lead to earlier detection and treatment, and possibly fewer deaths. In November 2010, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) announced preliminary results from the largest randomized trial of lung cancer screening ever conducted. The study, called the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), included over 53,000 current and former heavy smokers, ages 55 to 74, who had no signs or symptoms of lung cancer when they agreed to be in the study. The full results of the trial haven't even been reported yet. The NCI has said publication in a peer-reviewed journal is scheduled for some time in 2011. The full results should have breakdowns by gender, race, smoking status (current vs. former), and other details that may be revealing about who will benefit most from screening with CT scans. More »

On the alert for deep-vein blood clots

Deep-vein thrombosis is a clot that forms in a leg or arm vein. Sometimes a piece of the clot can break away and travel through the bloodstream. If the clot lodges in a lung, it can be fatal. More »