By Matthew J. Craig, MD
Lexington Clinic Pulmonologist


Being No. 1 in the month of November in Kentucky is usually a good thing. November marks the start of basketball season and the long road to the NCAA tournament and hopefully another national championship. But being No. 1 in a different category this time of year is also a reminder of a deadly direction our state is headed.

November is lung cancer awareness month and is a reminder of the staggering numbers for the Bluegrass. Kentucky leads the nation in both lung cancer incident rates and lung cancer death rates. The national average for lung cancer deaths is 45 out of every 100,000 but the numbers here are much higher. Kentuckians die from lung cancer at a rate of 68 out of every 100,000 and some places in Eastern Kentucky have average rates as high as 120.

Cigarette smoking is responsible for nearly 90 percent of lung cancer deaths across the country and in 2015 more than 25 percent of adults reported smoking.

Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals and many of those are poisons. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 70 chemicals found in tobacco smoke are known carcinogens, a substance capable of causing cancer.

Smoking doesn’t just affect the smoker. Every year more than 7,300 Americans who never smoked die from lung cancer caused by secondhand smoking.

Quitting can be tough but there is help available. Several websites offer free, online resources to help you through the process of quitting like There are also local support groups that meet frequently.

Your doctor can also help you with the process of quitting. If you don’t have a doctor and would like to establish care, please call (859) 258-4362 for help finding the provider who is right for you or visit
Matthew J. Craig, MD is board-certified in Internal Medicine and fellowship trained in Pulmonary and Critical Care medicine. He performs bronchoscopy, endobronchial ultrasound, thoracentesis and indwelling pleural catheter placements in addition to providing services in complete pulmonary function evaluation; including spirometry, lung volumes, diffusing capacity, arterial blood gases and pulse oximetry. Dr. Craig’s professional interests include asthma, COPD, malignant pleural effusions and pulmonary nodule evaluation.