LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) – Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths in America, but 13 percent of patients have never smoked, according to Dr. Michael Bergeron, Medical Oncologist at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital.
Wayne Durr, 80, quit more than three decades ago, and with no family history of the disease he was shocked by the diagnosis. Dr. Bergeron said the toughest part about treating lung cancer is the late diagnosis. Without any early screening tool, like mammograms for breast cancer, lung cancer can grow and not be diagnosed until the late stages.
87 percent of cases are because of smoking, but that means 13 percent are non-smokers, said Dr. Bergeron.
"It is estimated that there are 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year because of second hand exposure," explained Dr. Bergeron.
He is mostly concerned about the lack of research funding for this deadly disease.
"Frankly, we still have a lot of work to do in the treatment once it is advanced stage," said Dr. Bergeron.
He adds a stigma exists that patients brought the disease on themselves.
"We need to focus on treating the disease and not make judgments upon what happened in the past," said Dr. Bergeron.
Durr is on his second round of chemo treatments hoping a lump in his neck will disappear soon. He still goes to work every day and said he has no plans yet to retire, said Durr.
To help support lung cancer research go to the Free to Breathe 5k run and one mile walk Saturday, March 26, 2011. The event starts at 8am and all proceeds go to the Louisiana Lung Cancer Partnership and the Louisiana Hope Grant.