Not just blowing smoke

Preventing lung cancer: One of America’s most deadly assassins

During the last decade, technologies in radiographic studies have advanced at an incredible pace. Lung nodules, which are defined as a “spot” on the lung that is 3 cm (1 ½ inches) in diameter or less, can be detected much earlier through x-ray computed tomography (CT) scans. Furthermore, chemical reactions in the body can be traced with positron emission tomography (PET) scans. Through PET scans, doctors are able to focus with precision on nodules that need to be removed, as opposed to nodules that need to be carefully watched and treated if necessary.

“Death from lung cancer was relatively reduced by 20 percent in a recent trial comparing serial CT scan versus chest radiographs in a study group comprised of former smokers now abstained for 15 years“, explains Dr. Jose I. Martinez-Salas, a pulmonologist and critical care physician at Gessler Clinic and Polk County Medical Association member.

The advancement of endobronchial ultrasound, which is typically performed during a bronchoscopy, has helped doctors “sample” lymph nodes outside of the airway and provide further information when diagnosing or determining the stage of lung cancer.

Dr. Martinez-Salas elaborates that a bronchoscopy “is a standard procedure in the evaluation of lung cancer. However, at some centers Electromagnetic navigational bronchoscopy can be used to sample solitary peripheral nodules using GPS-like technology and have greater accuracy when sampling small nodules deep in the chest.”

Though not highly regarded, it has been proposed that dietary factors may help in the reduction of lung cancer. Food containing antioxidants such as blueberries; phytoestrogens such as oats and barley; and cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage and broccoli are among the nutrition that has been suggested might help the decline of this trespassing illness.

Dr. Martinez-Salas observes, “Lung cancer is a powerful foe. It is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide. In the US alone, 160,000 lives will be lost to this disease. It can attack without warning, devastating the body. As a pulmonologist, it can be a frustrating challenge. We have to remain vigilant because some cancers are tremendously aggressive and may not offer an opportunity for a cure. Our tools to diagnose, stage, and treat lung cancers are improving, but too many people are dying from this disease. Prevention is the only real solution at this time.”

He also offers these medical insights:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Avoid second hand tobacco. Eighty-five to 90 percent of lung cancer deaths are caused by exposure to cigarette smoke.
  • If you have a history of smoking remain vigilant because, unfortunately, 10 or 20 years after abstaining you still have a risk.
  • On average, current smokers are 15 times more likely to die from lung cancer than lifelong nonsmokers.
  • A person’s lifetime risk of developing lung cancer is related to how much they smoked, how many years they were smokers, and if they abstained from smoking and at what age they stopped.


Jose I. Martinez-Salas, MD, FCCP has devoted his life to helping, caring and easing the pain of humanity. However, he is just as devoted to his family.

To help keep mentally balanced he enjoys exercising. Dr. Martinez-Salas is an avid runner and has competed in six marathons.

He attended the School of Medicine at the University of Miami and continued his post-graduate training at the University of Miami and Jackson Memorial Hospital where he studied internal medicine.

Dr. Martinez-Salas is a board-certified diplomat in internal medicine and pulmonary disease. Additionally, he is board-certified in critical care and sleep medicine.

He is currently practicing at the Gessler Clinic in Winter Haven, is a Polk County Medical Association member, and is also on the medical staff at Winter Haven Hospital.


story by DALE BLISS


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