Lung Cancer Screening Can Save Your Life - PIH Health

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Published on November 19, 2015

Smoking Poses A Risk Even After You Quit

lung cancer November

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. “Smoking has long-term effects on your lungs, and even after giving up cigarettes, you are still at risk,” says Daniel Saket MD, medical director of radiology at PIH Health. He adds, “Getting screened can help catch cancer early when it can be treated most effectively.”

PIH Health offers a Lung Cancer Screening Program that can help diagnose lung cancer in patients with a long history of smoking. If diagnosed, PIH Health also offers a comprehensive program to treat the cancer.

Who should get screened?

A specific group of people should get screened:

  • Current smokers, or smokers who quit within the last 15 years with a smoking history equivalent to one pack per day for 30 years and who are between 55 to 80 years old

The screening exam is very simple and painless. It takes less than a minute using a CT Scan machine that uses low dosages of radiation. After the exam, CT images are read by a radiologist who will determine if anything appears abnormal and report the results to you and your physician.

Screening Can Help Lower Cancer Death By 20 Percent

Studies have shown that having a yearly low dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan can help reduce the risk of lung cancer death by 20 percent.

Gail Johnson - Lung Cancer SurvivorThis was the case for Gail Johnson, who after 65 years of smoking was concerned about lung cancer even though she had no symptoms. During a routine check-up, her doctor recommended the Lung Cancer Screening Program at PIH Health Whittier Hospital. On September 9, 2014 she had a LDCT scan which revealed a 12-millimeter nodule in her left lung and two smaller nodules in her right lung. Johnson underwent an innovative and minimally invasive partial lung resection surgery, which removed part of her upper lung. It was performed by PIH Health Cardiothoracic surgeon, Eduardo Tovar MD. With little pain and a fast recovery time, most patients are ready to go home within 24 hours.

The pathology results confirmed that the larger nodule was an aggressive form of squamous cell cancer. “Fortunately, it was found at the earliest stage possible, and no lymph nodes were involved,” said Dr. Saket. “This was an aggressive lesion, and if she hadn’t been screened and presented with symptoms just several months later, it’s likely that the cancer would have been at an incurable stage. Yet because of the screening, it was found very early and will not require further treatment.”

Gail is thrilled with the results and thankful for the screening program that may have saved her life. “Without the screening program, I would never have known I had lung cancer until it was too late,” said Gail. ”The expertise and compassionate care of all the people involved was phenomenal.”

Tips For Quitting

The START method, endorsed by the American Cancer Society, is an effective way to quit smoking:

S = Set a quit date

T = Tell family, friends and co-workers that you plan to quit

A = Anticipate and plan for the challenges you'll face while quitting

R = Remove cigarettes and other tobacco products from your home, car and work

T = Talk to your doctor about getting help to quit

And remember, one of the best and easiest things you can do is get screened whether you have symptoms or not.

To learn more about the PIH Health Lung Cancer Screening Program, please call 562.967.2892.

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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