Open Accessibility Menu

Local Pulmonologist has an Important Message About Lung Cancer Screening and Prevention

Local Pulmonologist has an Important Message About Lung Cancer Screening and Prevention

Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. for both men and women. Knowing the risk factors, symptoms, and when to be screened for lung cancer can save your life or the life of someone you love.

There are two major types of lung cancer including small cell, which makes up about 10-15% of all lung cancers and non-small cell lung cancer, found in 80-85% of cases. Smoking is the foremost cause of lung cancer and other risk factors include exposure to secondhand smoke or certain toxins in the home or workplace, and a family history of lung cancer. Symptoms include a cough that gets worse or does not go away (often with blood), chest pain, wheezing, shortness of breath, feeling tired or weak, and weight loss. The problem is oftentimes these signs don’t appear until the cancer is at an advanced stage.

“Strides have been made recently to detect lung cancer earlier, which has proven to lower the risk of dying from the disease,” said Washington Township Medical Foundation (WTMF) pulmonologist and Director of the Washington Hospital Respiratory Care Services Jason Chu, MD. “The National Lung Screening Trial has shown that screening with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT), as opposed to chest X-rays or sputum cytology, has decreased the risk of dying from lung cancer by 15-20% in current or former heavy smokers.”

The good news is that in 2016, Medicare began to cover annual LDCT lung cancer screenings for those who meet the criteria and have a doctor’s order. To be eligible, people must be between the ages of 50-77; have a tobacco smoking history of at least 20 “pack years” (an average of one pack per day for 20 years), be a current smoker or have quit smoking within the last 15 years and have no signs or symptoms of lung cancer.

When diagnosed, non-small cell lung cancer is usually classified in one of four stages. Stage one is the least advanced, where the cancer has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or other parts of the body. Stage four is the most aggressive lung cancer that has metastasized to other organs. Treatments for lung cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of these.

Local cancer patients have access to the state-of-the-art UCSF – Washington Cancer Center located right in their community. “Because of our affiliation with UCSF Health, our patients’ cases are reviewed by a world-class lung cancer tumor board made up of radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, pulmonology pathologists, thoracic surgeons and other specialists. This is the multidisciplinary team,” said Dr. Chu. “Washington Hospital patients benefit from the latest in lung cancer research, technology, treatments, and access to clinical trials located right here in Fremont.”

Dr. Chu concludes with this advice for the community: “Don’t smoke, avoid secondhand smoke, be aware of and protect yourself from carcinogens in the workplace, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, and be sure to get your routine physicals and screenings as appropriate.”

To read more about lung cancer, go to For more information about the UCSF – Washington Cancer Center, go to Ask your primary care physician if you are eligible to receive a lung cancer screening or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Chu, go to or call 510.248.1550.