GREENEVILLE, TN – If you smoke, you are at significant risk for getting lung cancer. In fact, tobacco smoke causes more than 8 out of 10 cases of this often-deadly disease.
“Smoking is by far the leading risk factor for lung cancer,” Dr. Frederic D. Seifer, a renowned pulmonologist at Takoma Medical Associates, said. “The longer a person has been smoking and the more packs per day smoked, the greater the risk.”
Nearly 173,000 people will get lung cancer this year, according to the American Cancer Society.
ABC’s top news anchor Peter Jennings is now one of them. Jennings, a formerly heavy smoker who has struggled with quitting, recently announced that he has lung cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy.
Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in one or both of the lungs, Seifer explained. Normal lung tissue cells reproduce and develop into healthy lung tissue. “But these abnormal cells reproduce rapidly and never grow into normal lung tissue,” he said. “Lumps of cancer cells, or tumors, then form and disrupt the lung, making it difficult to function properly.”
“Common symptoms include chest discomfort, such as coughing, breathing changes, and chest or rib pain,” Seifer said. “More generalized symptoms include fatigue, lethargy and weight loss.”
Often these symptoms go undiagnosed until the disease has quietly spread to other organs, Seifer noted.
“The good news is that quitting smoking reduces your risk significantly,” Seifer said. “With each day that someone doesn’t smoke, their risk for lung cancer decreases.”
If you are a smoker or a tobacco user and you want to quit, there’s a new program at Takoma Adventist Hospital that can help you change directions.
Called HIP (Health-Status Improvement Program), it’s a ground-breaking, tobacco intervention program that helps participants quit smoking, chewing and dipping tobacco products, lose weight, and regain their health, Seifer said.
“If you follow the recipe, you will have success,” Seifer said frankly. “It’s that simple.”
The outpatient program is unique because it is physician-directed, it is covered by most insurance policies, and treatment continues for at least one year. As a result of Seifer’s unique approach, he has a whopping 84 percent quit rate, while the national average is only 22 percent.
“With HIP, you receive complete care by the healthcare team -- which includes, but is not limited to, a physician, a family nurse practitioner and a respiratory therapist – not a counselor or someone who is just facilitating the program,” Seifer explained. “In those other programs, if you need a prescription, for example, you have to go and see a doctor separately. With HIP, we provide total care.”
A key reason for HIP’s overwhelming success is that Seifer treats tobacco addiction as any other chronic disease, like diabetes or hypertension, for example.
Additionally, Seifer continues to treat patients – even after they have stopped smoking. “We want to make sure patients have long-term success, so we treat them for at least an entire year,” he said.
For more information on HIP, please contact Seifer at Takoma Medical Associates at (423) 422-7813. Office hours are Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and Tuesdays from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.