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New lung cancer treatments provide better quality of life

Union Leader Correspondent

August 13. 2018 11:30PM

PORTSMOUTH — Doctors at Portsmouth Regional Hospital are finding ways to improve the quality of life for people with lung cancer.

Dr. Yoko Fukuda, a physician in internal medicine, hematology and oncology, said immune therapy and targeted treatments allow patients to spend less time in the hospital and more time with family.

“They can be more active. Some people travel. Quality of life is important,” Fukuda said.

Immunotherapy is the use of medicines to stimulate a person’s own immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells more effectively.

“It lets their own body fight against the cancer,” Fukuda said.

Targeted treatments are used when doctors can see mutations and prescribe a specific drug to a patient. Fukuda said this is a better option than chemotherapy for some people.

“You don’t have to lose your hair. You don’t have to go to the hospital and sit eight hours in a chair,” Fukuda said.

Fukuda said she has had patients as old as 94 benefit from newer treatment plans.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more people in the United States die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer. This is true for both men and women.

The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 234,030 new cases of lung cancer reported in 2018. They say 154,050 people are expected to die of the disease.

Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined, according to the American Cancer Society.

In 2016, officials at the NH Division of Public Health Services estimated 1,140 residents would be diagnosed with lung cancer and 770 would die from the disease.

The good news is researchers for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute and North American Association of Central Cancer Registries released a comprehensive report recently that says lung cancer death rates dropped between 2011 and 2016.

The findings were based on cancer registry data from 42 states. It accounts for 89 percent of the country’s population.

For men, the mortality rate dropped by an average of 3.8 percent per year. Lung cancer death rates for women dropped by 2.4 percent.

Health Portsmouth

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