Atrium Health Navicent Recognizes Lung Cancer Awareness Month

November 4, 2021

In observance of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Atrium Health Navicent encourages men and women to know their risks for lung cancer and to get annual screenings if they are at a high risk for developing the disease.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. Overall, the chance that a man will develop lung cancer in his lifetime is about 1 in 15. For a woman, the risk is about 1 in 17. The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 235,760 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in 2021, and an estimated 131,880 people will die of the disease this year.

The impact is no different in central Georgia where there were 43.4 annual average deaths from lung cancer per 100,000 people from 2016-2018, which is higher than the state average of 39.0.

Most lung cancer cases are diagnosed at later stages when the cancer has spread to other organs. At that point, treatment options are less likely to be effective and survival is lower.

But, with early detection and intervention, lung cancer can be survivable.

In Georgia, 21.1 percent of cases are caught at an early stage. This is thanks, in part, to the availability of low-dose CT scans, such as those offered at Atrium Health Navicent.

A low-dose CT scan is an X-ray that takes multiple pictures as you lie on a table that slides in and out of the machine. A computer then combines these images into a detailed picture of your lungs.

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recently revised its recommendations for lung cancer screenings. Annual low-dose CT screenings are recommended for adults aged 50 to 80 who have a 20 pack/year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.

A study on early detection of lung cancer found that the low-dose cancer screening test can reduce mortality by 20 percent for those at high risk.

“Patients who are between the ages of 50 and 80 and who have smoked for 20 years, a pack a day, or who are actively smoking, or who have quit less than 15 years ago are encouraged to talk with their doctor about getting screened for lung cancer,” said Dr. Muhammad S. Khan, an Atrium Health Navicent pulmonologist. ”Most of the time, when the patient starts to have symptoms, it’s already too late and the survival rate is much lower. The goal for screening is to detect screening in patients before they develop symptoms.”

Atrium Health Navicent offers CT lung screens at several locations, including:

  • Atrium Health Navicent Imaging & Laboratory (1650 Hardeman Avenue, Macon)
  • Atrium Health Navicent Baldwin (821 N. Cobb Street, Milledgeville)
  • Atrium Health Navicent Peach (1960 Highway 247 Connector, Byron)
  • Atrium Health Navicent Imaging Monroe (120 N. Lee Street, Suite B, Forsyth)

Smoking is by far the leading risk factor for lung cancer. About 80 percent of lung cancer deaths are thought to result from smoking. The longer you smoke and the more packs a day you smoke, the greater your risk.

November is also Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Awareness Month. Smoking is the number one risk factor for COPD as well.

Other risk factors for lung cancer:

  • Second-hand smoke. Breathing in the smoke of others is thought to cause more than 7,000 deaths from lung cancer each year. Second-hand smoke is also a risk factor for COPD.
  • Exposure to radon. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that results from the breakdown of uranium in soil and rocks. You can’t see, taste, or smell it. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in this country, and is the leading cause among people who don’t smoke.
  • Exposure to asbestos. People who work with asbestos (such as in mills, textile plants, and places where insulation is used) are several times more likely to die of lung cancer.
  • Previous radiation therapy to lungs. People who have had radiation therapy to the chest for other cancers are at higher risk for lung cancer, particularly if they smoke.
  • Air pollution. Air pollution (especially near heavily trafficked roads) appears to raise the risk of lung cancer slightly. Air pollution is also a risk factor for COPD.
  • History of lung cancer. If you have had lung cancer, you have a higher risk of developing another lung cancer. Brothers, sisters, and children of people who have had lung cancer may have a slightly higher risk of lung cancer themselves, especially if a relative was diagnosed at a younger age.

The biggest way to reduce your risk of lung cancer and COPD is to quit smoking. Quitting, even for a day, is an important step toward a healthier life. Other ways to reduce risk include limited exposure to cancer-causing agents such as radon and asbestos, and eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.

To mark Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Atrium Health Navicent is holding the following community events:

Lung and Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Vigil

Thursday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m.

Join us on Facebook Live as we join together to honor lung cancer survivors and remember those who have been lost to the disease. Dr. Frances E. Penn and the Rev. Sean Beck will speak. Participate by visiting the Atrium Health Peyton Anderson Cancer Center Facebook Page.

Great American Smokeout

Thursday, Nov. 18.

This is a day for smokers and other tobacco users to “butt out.” Tobacco users are encouraged by the American Cancer Society to use this day to create a plan to quit, or even quit for the day, in hopes of quitting for good. For information about resources for how to quit, including a free Stop Smoking class, call 478-633-2614.

To find a doctor, visit and click “Find a Doctor.”

About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent is the leading provider of healthcare in central and south Georgia and is committed to its mission of elevating health and well-being through compassionate care. Atrium Health Navicent provides high-quality, personalized care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region. As part of the largest, integrated, nonprofit health system in the Southeast, it is also able to tap into some of the nation’s leading medical experts and specialists with Atrium Health, allowing it to provide the best care close to home – including advanced innovations in virtual medicine and care. Throughout its 125-year history in the community, Atrium Health Navicent has remained dedicated to enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. It is also one of the leading teaching hospitals in the region, helping to ensure viability for rural health care for the next generation. For more information, please visit