Thoracic Surgeon Dr. Galen Ohnmacht, of the Mississippi Baptist Medical Center, spoke to the Rotary Club of North Jackson about Lung Cancer at the club's November 17 meeting. Dr. Ohnmacht recently moved from Maryland to Jackson. He commented that he got tired of digging out of the snow in winter and was looking forward to a winter in Mississippi. Dr. Ohmacht completed medical school at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston and his residency at Mayo Foundation in Rochester, Minnesota. 
Dr. Ohmacht's bottom line was that if you don't want lung cancer, don't smoke. He said that people aged 55- 77 years in age who have 30 pack-years or more of smoking should have lung cancer screening. He defined a pack-year as the length of time smoked times the number of packs of cigarettes smoked daily. Thus 30 pack-years for a two-pack a day smoker would be 15 years. He described the screening process as a non-invasive low dose CT scan.
Per Dr. Ohnmacht, Lung Cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., accounting for 25% of U.S. Cancer deaths. More people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancer combined. In 2020, medical experts estimate that there will be 229,000 new cases and 136,000 deaths from lung cancer. The number of deaths is decreasing because of fewer people smoking and early detection. In Mississippi, the estimated number of new lung cancer cases in  2020 is 2500. Risk factors associated with lung cancer are smoking, exposure to secondhand smoke, asbestos, diesel exhaust, coal products, arsenic, vinyl chloride, radon, radiation (especially radiation therapy to the chest), air pollution, and a family history of lung cancer. He said that lung cancer can be very advanced by the time people have symptoms. 
The stages of lung cancer are
  • Stage I  - cancer remains in the primary organ
  • Stage II - cancer is large and may or may not have spread to the lymph nodes and other structures
  • Stage III - cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and other structures
  • Stage IV - cancer has spread to other areas of the body
There are several imaging tests that can be used to screen for lung cancer, chest X-Ray, Computerized Tomography (CT) scan, and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan. 
The treatment for lung cancer depends on the subtype, stage, molecular characteristics, patient co-morbidities, and other factors in combination or alone. Possible treatments include:
  • surgery
  • radiation therapy
  • chemotherapy
  • targeted therapy
  • immunotherapy
Dr. Ohnmacht listed the following preventative steps:
  • don't smoke
  • avoid secondhand smoke
  • avoid radon exposure
  • avoid exposure to known cancer-causing agents in the workplace
  • eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables
We thank Dr. Ohnmacht for his informative presentation and for his moving to Jackson. He is shown following his presentation in the following photo.
Shown in the photo from the left are Club Member Dr. Nelson Atehortua, Dr. Ohnmacht, Baptist System Community Outreach and Special Events Coordinator Caitlin Hayden, and Club President Lee Carney. The entire meeting, including Dr. Ohnmacht's presentation, can be seen at the following website: