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Breathing lessons

Researchers envision those at risk one day popping a daily tablet to thwart the deadly disease. CAT scans may soon replace X-rays at annual checkups to detect its earliest stages.

But for now, say the experts, the best defense against lung cancer is to not invite it in.

"The single most important thing to do is to quit smoking. Smokers have 10 times the increased risk for lung cancer as those who've never smoked," says Dr. Gerold Bepler, oncology professor and thoracic oncology leader at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute.

Lung cancer accounts for more than one-fourth of all cancer deaths in the United States, more than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. As lung cancer's mortality rate declined in men over the past 15 years, the rate for women, who began smoking in greater numbers, increased, says Bepler, making lung cancer an equal opportunity killer.

Information on the disease and its treatment will be offered at Moffitt's fourth annual Lung Cancer Awareness Day, from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Monday. The event is free and open to the public.

This year's theme is "Celebrating the Patient-Caregiver Relationship." A panel of eight Moffitt experts will answer questions, and lung cancer survivors will talk about their experiences.

Speakers will include Bepler, on the status of lung cancer in 2001, and Betty Layne, co-executive director of the Alliance for Lung Cancer Advocacy, Support and Education.

In 2002, Moffitt doctors and scientists will continue research on a preventative pill and the genetic disposition to nicotine addiction, says Bepler.

Bepler says he already has a potent prescription: Don't smoke. And quit if you do.

The event will be at the Moffitt auditorium at 13131 Magnolia Drive, across Magnolia from the main hospital, on the University of South Florida campus in Tampa. To get more information or to RSVP, call (813) 972-8407.

Brain waves

Advances in taming epilepsy's seizures to be shared at Tampa General Hospital event

The biggest frustration in treating people with epilepsy is seeing a new patient who has suffered for years and could have been helped, says Dr. Selim Benbadis, neurologist and University of South Florida professor.

"Many doctors and many neurologists are not familiar with the things we can do," says Benbadis.

People with epilepsy, about 1 to 2 percent of the population, may spend years switching medications, suffering the side effects of powerful drugs without significant relief from seizures, he says. Tampa General Hospital, where Benbadis is epilepsy program director, has one of four epilepsy centers in Florida.

Surgical options include implantation of a Vagus nerve stimulator, which sends electronic impulses to the brain much like a pacemaker prods the heart, and brain surgery, says Benbadis.

To increase awareness, TGH invites people with epilepsy, their caregivers and families to hear the about the latest research and treatments and meet physicians, nurses and other experts at a program from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday .

The event will be at the hospital's Rehabilitation Center, across from the emergency room. The hospital's address is 2 Columbia Drive, on Davis Islands in Tampa.

Parking is available at the city garage on campus, and complimentary parking passes will be issued. Limited disabled parking is available adjacent to the building.

To get more information or to RSVP, call (813) 844-4977.