Dr. Matthew Lonergan joined Willamette Valley Cancer Institute after spending 13 years in clinical practice in Kirkland, Washington. He was named Seattle Metropolitan magazine’s “Top Doctor” for Medical Oncology 2015, and is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. He is a past president and current executive board member of the Washington State Medical Oncology Society.

Notes from his presentation:

  • Just under a quarter million, and 1.2 to 1.6 million people worldwide are diagnosed with cancer. Most people die and most cancer is preventable.
  • If cigarettes weren’t around, we would save most people with both lung cancer and cardiovascular disease.
  • Unfortunately, cigarettes are more addictive than heroin and alcohol.
  • Most lung cancer is diagnosed at stage 4, which is incurable. By the time symptoms show up, the cancer has spread throughout the body.
  • In 2011, screening against lung cancer in high risk people began and has been proven to be as effective in early diagnosis (and as cost effective) as mammography. This will become more common in coming years and has been “signed off on” by medicare and the federal government. Dr. Lonergan is hopeful this screening will save tens of thousands of lives. Screenings are not recommended for people without risk factors because of the small risk of radiation caused cancer.
  • Some lung cancers (prior to stage 4) can be surgically removed and combined with chemo and radiation can be cured.
  • Stage 4 patients normally have a diagnosis of 6 months-1year to live. Chemotherapy can extend a life for 6 months or longer.
  • Some patients have mutations that can be addressed by a specific, very special medicine…this is normally the case in lung cancer patients who are not smokers. In this case, life can be extended even longer. The reason this doesn’t apply to smokers is that smoking causes hundreds or thousands of mutations.
  • Another new immune therapy applies to 20-30% of smokers, with thousands of mutations. The idea is that the more mutations you have, the higher the chance that this therapy will trigger an immune response. This is where most research is targeted currently.
  • Anytime you inhale ANY kind of natural or unnatural substance in to your lungs, you risk mutation & lung cancer. Marijuana is no exception.
  • 2-3000 people a year are diagnosed with lung cancer from second hand smoke.