There’s great news from the frontlines on the battle against lung cancer.

According to experts from the American Cancer Society, cancer death rates in the United States dropped sharply from 2016 to 2017 by approximately 2.2%–this is the biggest single-year drop ever recorded.

The decrease in cancer-related deaths is thought largely to be attributed to the decline in those related to lung cancer. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., claiming more than breast, colorectal, and prostate cancers combined.

Dr. Rachel Medbery, thoracic surgeon who specializes in lung and esophageal cancer, believes that a large part of the decrease in deaths related to lung cancer is earlier detection through better, higher resolutions CTs leading to earlier intervention and therapies.

“We’re also seeing more novel chemotherapy and immunotherapy options, which is prolonging survival for our more advanced-stage lung cancer patients,” says Dr. Medbery.

Smoking in general has become less popular now too, Dr. Medbery points out. It’s just not as fashionable as it once was.

Along with cigarette smoking, other risk factors that can contribute to lung cancer are:

  • use of other types of tobacco (such as pipes or cigars)
  • breathing secondhand smoke
  • exposure to harmful substances like asbestos or radon
  • a family history of lung cancer

Treatment for lung cancer typically includes surgery to remove the cancerous tissue, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or often a combination of all of these.

CTVS thoracic surgeons, including Drs. Fortes, McNeil  and Medbery are using more minimally invasive procedures like video-assisted and robotic-assisted thoracoscopic surgery or VATS/RATS. During a VATS procedure, a tiny camera called a thoracoscope and surgical instruments are inserted into the chest cavity through the chest wall via one or more small incisions. The thoracoscope transmits high-resolution images to a video monitor to guide the surgeon during the procedure.

Early detection and treatment are the key to better survival rates among all cancers.

To read more about the study, click here.

If you have questions or concerns about your risk for lung cancer, please visit or call us at (512) 459-8753 to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified thoracic surgeons.

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