A bigger killer than breast cancer!

“Most women believe breast cancer to be their greatest health risk,” says Scott McDonald, Executive Director for the BC Lung Association, “but lung cancer is Canada’s No. 1 cause of cancer mortality among men and women.”

Another silent killer is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a progressive, debilitating lung disease that includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and now ranks fourth as a cause of death in Canadian women.

Despite being a leading cause of death, there remains a lack of awareness about the prevalence of both lung diseases.

“Canadians need to recognize that the face of chronic lung disease has truly changed and we will be seeing more and more women living with and dying from lung disease,” said Dr Jeremy Road, Respirologist at Vancouver General Hospital and Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the University of British Columbia.

While screening such as mammography, pap tests or bone density testing has become standard routine for other diseases, appropriate screening for COPD is unacceptably low. Spirometry, a simple breathing test, is essential for the diagnosis of COPD and individuals at risk for COPD can receive an early diagnosis through appropriate Spirometry testing.

The BC Lung Association says smoking is to blame for 85 to 90 percent of lung cancer and COPD-related deaths but emphasizes health risks decline significantly once a person has quit.

“In addition to quitting smoking, we urge anyone who’s at risk to be screened. That includes everyone over the age of 40 who’s smoked at any time in their life,” says McDonald.