News and Stories

September 27, 2023

The Basics of Cholesterol: Understanding its Role in Your Health

Almost 2 in 5 adults have high cholesterol, which puts them at risk for serious health conditions like heart disease and stroke¹.

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September 12, 2023

Lab Tests for Healthy Aging

Curious about staying youthful? The secret is a healthy lifestyle. It is never too late to get started!

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September 01, 2023

Celebrating Compassion and Collaboration: HNL Lab Medicine and NCC’s Back-to-School Pantry Drive

In a heartwarming display of unity and generosity, HNL Lab Medicine is thrilled to share the exciting news of its partnership with Northampton Community College (NCC) for a remarkable Back-to-School Pantry Drive.

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August 28, 2023

Martin K. Till Featured on Health Care Power List

Martin K. Till, President and CEO of HNL Lab Medicine, has been named a top leader on Lehigh Valley Business’ Health Care Power List.  

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August 16, 2023

Why Blood Tests Are Important for Children: Top Tests Explained

Blood tests are diagnostic tools that help pediatricians assess your child’s health. 

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News and Stories

November 14, 2022

Lung cancer is responsible for the highest number of cancer deaths with an estimated 130,180 deaths each year¹. Did you know that living in Pennsylvania might increase your risk of developing lung cancer? Cases of lung cancer are higher in Pennsylvania than the national average². Smoking, radon, and air pollution can all increase the risk- and Pennsylvania has one of the most serious radon problems in all of the United States! Read below to learn more about this common, serious disease.

Lung Cancer Information

Lung cancer is caused by uncontrollable growth of cells in the lungs. The two main groups of lung cancer are small cell and non-small cell, with non-small cell being more common. These two groups of lung cancer grow differently and are treated differently, too.
Lung cancer is usually detected with imaging tests like CT and PET scans. The diagnosis is confirmed with a biopsy. There are many forms of biopsy tests that can help doctors confirm the diagnosis, but one of the most common tests is called a bronchoscopy. During a bronchoscopy, a doctor inserts a flexible tube into the large airways of the lungs in order to view tumors and take tissue samples².
Tissue samples and surgical resections are handled in the HNL laboratory by specialized physician assistants and technologists who cut tissue sections and lay them on glass slides. Slides are reviewed by an HNL board certified pathologist using a microscope and a diagnosis is rendered and issued as a pathology report. The pathology report will be received by your physician to help your physician make personalized management decisions. 
In general, lung cancer is treated with surgery and other methods such as chemotherapy, radiation, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy.  

Radon and Lung Cancer

Approximately 40% of homes in Pennsylvania have radon levels above Environmental Protection Agency's action guideline³. Radon is a tasteless, odorless gas that is produced naturally from the decomposition of radioactive metals in rocks, soil, and groundwater. Radon is a known carcinogen and is the second leading cause of lung cancer³. Radon gas can seep into buildings and homes through cracks in the foundation. The only way to know if your home has elevated levels of radon is to test for it. High levels can be reduced with the installation of a radon mitigation system.

Smoking and Lung Cancer

Despite Pennsylvania’s high radon levels, smoking remains the leading cause of lung cancer. Smoking causes up to 90% of lung cancer deaths⁴. Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals. Many of these chemicals are toxic. Even breathing secondhand smoke can increase a person’s risk of developing lung cancer. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smokers are 15 to 30 times more likely to get lung cancer than people who do not smoke⁴.

Quitting Smoking

According to the American Cancer Society, quitting smoking before the age of 40 reduces the risk of dying from smoking related diseases by up to 90%⁵- but the benefits aren’t limited to this age group. Quitting smoking has health benefits at any age and can add up to 10 years to your life⁵. The best thing you can do to reduce your risk of lung cancer and other smoking related diseases is quit smoking.

Symptoms of Lung Cancer

Symptoms of lung cancer can include:
  • Coughing
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tiredness
  • Wheezing
  • Weight loss
Symptoms of lung cancer vary from person to person. Symptoms can include other parts of the body in cases of lung cancer that have spread throughout the body. Some people may have frequent bouts of pneumonia or swollen lymph nodes inside the chest⁴.

Be Aware of Your Risk

There are a few things you can do to lower your risk of developing lung cancer. The CDC recommends quitting smoking, avoiding secondhand smoke, and testing your home for radon⁴. Yearly screening for those at risk can help catch cancer in the earliest, most treatable stages. A person diagnosed with lung cancer in the earliest stages is up to five times more likely to survive the disease- but only 18% of lung cancer cases in Pennsylvania are diagnosed early⁶. Lung cancer screening saves lives. Yearly screening is recommended for all current or former smokers over age 50. Speak to your healthcare provider about lung cancer risks or screening today.
¹National Cancer Institute. (2022). Cancer Stat Facts: Common Cancer Sites. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
²American Lung Association. (2021). State of Lung Cancer: Pennsylvania.
³Department of Environmental Protection. (2022). Radon in the Home. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
⁴Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, October 25). Lung Cancer. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
⁵American Cancer Society. (2022). Health benefits of quitting smoking over time.
⁶American Lung Association. (2018, February 28). American Lung Association Finds That Pennsylvania Can do More to Reduce the Toll of Lung Cancer.