Local hospitals discuss ‘opportunity to make a difference’ as lung cancer burdens Kentucky

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PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) – November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and medical professionals in Floyd County are stressing the importance of maintaining good lung health.

“Lung cancer is a burden for the nation, but it’s specifically in the state of Kentucky,” said Highlands ARH Community Chief Medical Officer Anthony Stumbo, M.D.

Kentucky is listed among the highest states in the U.S. for lung cancer. And though issues with black lung play a role in that, Stumbo said the main concern is cigarettes.

“People go around on oxygen all the time; difficulty breathing. It limits their ability, their stamina, their ability to function like they want to,” said Dr. Stumbo.

He said the highly-addictive habit is hard to kick, even for people who are dealing with issues like those.

“And if you smoke on top of that, it can create a recipe for disaster,” he said.

Dr. Stumbo said the hospital has worked to create smoking cessation plans for patients, giving them resources to live a healthier lifestyle.

“There’s a lot of opportunity to make a difference, as far as the health care of the communities of Kentucky,” Dr. Stumbo said.

He said the impact of lung cancer goes far beyond the lungs.

“Lung cancer is a burden economically, from a health standpoint, from a psychological standpoint,” Dr. Stumbo said.

The hospital is also working on an ever-growing screening program in an effort to diagnose issues early on, giving patients a chance to change things for the better.

“The earlier we can detect the potential lung cancer and diagnose it, the better and more likely we are to treat it and get a curative result,” he said. “Most lung cancers begin as small nodules in the Kung. And if you screen for those on an annual basis for these high-risk populations, we can catch these cancers very early. Where they can be surgically cured or they can be resected.”

He said the ongoing education focus and growing screening efforts are all about increasing awareness.

“ARH has been very diligent and very active in developing smoking cessation programs,” he said. “We do community events for that, any patients that are admitted to our facilities we do get smoking cessation consults for people who use tobacco.”

He said the goal is to nip smoking in the butt- helping the community take a collective breath of fresh air.

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