In recognition of November as Lung Cancer Awareness month, local medical professionals say it’s important to familiarize the community with the dangers of this form of cancer.

“Iowa and Illinois are higher as far as states go for deaths from lung cancer,” said Teresa Pangan with UnityPoint Health – Trinity.

Representatives with both Genesis Health System and UnityPoint Health- Trinity say the pandemic increased smoking.

“The stress of isolation — the stress of trying to work in a different environment and I think unfortunately lots of idle time as well — certainly we’ve seen people probably smoke more than they should,” said Humphrey Wong with Genesis Health System. “Cigarette sales have increased some I think people are stocking up like they stock up on every other staple.”

The concept of quarantining — a common safety practice in 2020 and since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic — highlighted the risk of second-hand smoke, which can be harmful to non-smoking individuals near those who smoke.

“If you’re in enclosed environment that air gets re-circulated you’re breathing that in passively,” Wong said.

For information on lung cancer awareness and screening, visit here.