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Hunterdon News

Retired Physician Advocates for Lung Cancer Awareness

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and Delaware Township resident, Dr. Lidia Vitale is passionate about spreading her story and awareness for the disease.

October 29, 2019

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and Delaware Township resident, Dr. Lidia Vitale is passionate about spreading her story and awareness for the disease.

In 2016, Dr. Vitale, an Obstetrician and Gynecologist at Advanced OB/GYN affiliated with Hunterdon Medical Center, had a persistent dry cough.  “I didn’t think much of it, but it bothered me. After a visit to my Pulmonologist, Anthony Granato, M.D. and a few tests, I was shocked when I was told of my lung cancer diagnosis,” explained Dr. Vitale.

Although smoking is the leading risk factor for lung cancer, up to 15-20% of people who are diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked, according to the American Cancer Society.  Dr. Vitale added, “I never smoked and always thought lung cancer in nonsmokers was rare, but I unfortunately learned that is not the case.”  Other risk factors include exposure to radon gas, secondhand smoke, asbestos, radiation, certain organic chemicals, air pollution, diesel exhaust and certain metals (arsenic chromium).  A family history and genetic risk factors may also play a role in the development of lung cancer.

Common symptoms of lung cancer include recurring respiratory infections, an enduring cough, aches or pains in shoulders, back or chest, shortness of breath, hoarseness or wheezing, exhaustion, weakness and loss of appetite.  A bloody cough is also common.

“Although I have retired from medicine to focus on my health, my personal mission and hope is to make our community aware of the causes and risk factors for developing lung cancer.  I am currently undergoing treatment at Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center, but my mission in this month and every month is to increase awareness, especially in nonsmokers and to raise money to support lung cancer research.  I will be selling awareness bracelets throughout Hunterdon County to benefit both the Lung Cancer Research Foundation and GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer,” explained Dr. Vitale.  The bracelets will be available for a $5 donation (or more) at the Hunterdon Health and Wellness Centers in Clinton and Whitehouse Station, Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center, Advanced Obstetrics and Gynecology offices in Flemington, Lebanon and Branchburg,  retail stores, Attachments, Sage and The Paint Party Studio in Flemington, as well as, The Italian Bakery in Flemington and Raritan.

A special Painting for a Cause will be held at The Paint Party Studio on Sunday, November 10th from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.  Fifty percent of the proceeds will support the two lung cancer foundations noted above.  To register visit, www.thepaintpartystudio.com.    A shopping event at both Sage and Attachments will be held on the evening of November 20th from 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. where 20% of proceeds will be donated to the two foundations.  Shop-Rite of Hunterdon County will be generously donating refreshments for both events.

For those with a smoking history, Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center recommends yearly lung cancer screening with low-dose CT scan (LDCT) for people who:

  • Have a history of *heavy smoking
    AND
  • Smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years
    AND
  • Are between 55 and 80 years old

*Heavy smoking means the person has a smoking history of 30 **pack years or more. (**A “pack year” is smoking an average of one pack of cigarettes per day for one year. For example, a person could have a 30 pack-year history by smoking one pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years or two packs of cigarettes a day for 15 years.)

If you would like more information or are interested in being screened for lung cancer, please contact your Primary Care Provider’s office to ask if you qualify for lung cancer screening.

To learn more about lung cancer, visit www.hunterdonregionalcancercenter.org.

 

 

 

 

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