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Early Disease Detection

Diesel Exhaust Linked to Increased Risk of Death Due to Lung Cancer

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The results of a new study indicate that diesel engine exhaust is linked to increased risk of dying from lung cancer.

The Diesel Exhaust in Miners Study found that long term exposure to diesel exhaust – even if only at low levels – increases one’s risk of succumbing to lung cancer.

The study involved following 12,315 miners working in eight underground nonmetal mining facilities. Researchers collected information regarding the health of the miners, including exposure to various elements and chemicals dating back to the time that diesel-powered equipment was first introduced by the company (from 1947 to 1967), until the end of the study in 1997.

An analysis of the data indicated that workers exposed to elemental carbon, a marker used for exposure to diesel exhaust, had a higher risk of lung cancer. In addition, it was determined that miners who had the highest levels of exposure to elemental carbon were three times more likely to develop lung cancer, when compared against those who had the lowest levels of exposure.

Exposure to other agents, such as silica, asbestos, dust, and radon, had a smaller effect on developing lung cancer, as opposed to the effect of elemental carbon.

Miners who developed lung cancer, and who also had the highest levels of exposure to diesel exhaust, were more likely to succumb to the disease. But even miners who had lower levels of exposure to diesel exhaust had a 50 percent increased risk of developing lung cancer.

Early Disease Detection

Former Penn State Football Coach Joe Paterno Passes Away

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Joe Paterno, former football coach for Penn State, passed away on January 22 at the age of 85. News reports from the days leading up to his death indicated that his health condition had taken a turn for the worse.

Paterno succumbed to lung cancer, as indicated in a statement released by Mount Nittany Medical Center in State College, Pennsylvania.

A statement released by Mr. Paterno’s family reads: “He died as he lived… He fought hard until the end, stayed positive, thought only of others and constantly reminded everyone of how blessed his life had been.”

Mr. Paterno’s passing has plunged the Penn State campus community in State College in to mourning. The base of a statue of the former football coach was decorated with candles, flowers, T-shirts, and blue and white pompoms. A moment of silence in his memory was observed prior to the basketball game between Penn State and Indiana University at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana.

The late JoePa, as he is affectionately called, was born Joseph Vincent Paterno on December 21, 1926, in Brooklyn, New York, to a family of Italian ancestry. He graduated from Brooklyn Preparatory School in 1944, and attended Brown University after serving in the Army for a year.

While at Brown, he was a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, and played quarterback and cornerback. He graduated from Brown in 1950, and joined his college football coach Rip Engle as an assistant coach at Penn State in the same year. When Engle retired after the 1965 season, Paterno succeeded him.

Paterno is survived by his wife, Susan; children Jay, David, Scott, Mary Kathryn, and Diana; and seventeen grandchildren.

Early Disease Detection

CT Scan Prevents Lung Cancer Deaths

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Recent studies have suggested that heavy smokers exposed to low-dose CT scans lessen their risk to lung cancer deaths by 20%. The National Lung Screening Trial has been studying smokers since 2002 and their findings today suggest that low-dose celical computed tomography can help reduce lung cancer mortality.

lung cancerIn the United States, approximately 94 million are at risk of the disease. When symptoms of lung cancer begin to manifest on individuals, they are often diagnosed to be in the later stage of the disease and treatment usually becomes too late.

In the study, doctors were able to prove that patients who are exposed to low-dose CT scan annually have better chances of survival compared to those who only underwent chest X-ray procedures. Early detection of tumors in CT scans is the main reason why lung cancer deaths are decreased by 20%.

In a helical CT, the process makes use X-rays showing many angles of a patient’s chest as a whole, while a regular chest X-ray only shows a single image of the chest which often fails to identify tumors at the early stages of the illness.

In an AFP report, Constantine Gatsonis, a statistician and chair of biostatistics at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School, says that results of the study could open the doors of LDCT for lung cancer patients to decrease deaths related to the disease.

“For the first time, we have a study that says, ‘Yes, you can actually reduce lung cancer mortality in heavy smokers via screening.’ This is tremendous,” Gatsonis adds.

Complete results of the study are published in the online edition of New England Journal of Medicine where the relationship between CT scans and lung cancer mortality rates are further explained. The study could greatly impact the emotional and physical state of lung cancer patients.

Early Disease Detection Substance Abuse

Lung Cancer Deaths in Women on a Decline

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When we talk about cancer, any news about survival is always good news. On Thursday, researchers shared this sort of good news, by revealing that the rate at which women die of lung cancer is going down.

A feature on The Washington Post shared that death rate from lung cancer has dropped at a rate of about 1 percent a year until at least 2007, since peaking in 2002.

lung cancerThe decline of death rate due to lung cancer for men started earlier than for women’s, and this is being attributed in part to the fact that women took up the smoking habit a little bit later than men. The decline is expected, as more and more women are beginning to give up smoking.

The decline was documented on Thursday by the National Cancer Institute. Brenda Edwards, of the National Cancer Institute, commented that women “took it [smoking] up a little later, so their increase has had a slow rise and now it’s finally starting to turn around… Lung cancer deaths in women are now showing a statistically significant decline. It’s the first time.”

The information was shared via an analysis of the country’s war against cancer, which is conducted every year by the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries.

The good news extended beyond women with lung cancer, as the analysis also indicated a decline in the rate at which Americans are diagnosed with, and succumbed to, leading cancers.