Here's a sobering fact. More people will lose their life to lung cancer this year than breast, prostate, or colon cancers combined. That's because once symptoms come about, it's often too late to survive lung cancer. For the first time ever, there is a new screening tool that is saving lives and could turn around those horrible stats.
Dr. Ronald Garb is a Psychiatrist in Houston, who started smoking when he was only 15 years old in South Africa. He smoked all through Med School and even with his patients. He says this went on for twenty years, until the 1970's, when smoking started to became a public enemy.
Even though Dr. Garb quit smoking forty years ago, he's still concerned about his lungs. He often sees his patients, who quit that long ago, still get lung cancer. "Just as they thought they were in the clear, they get diagnosed with late onset carcinoma, cancer of the lung," says Dr. Garb. That's why he decided to undergo a special screening at Memorial Hermann Southwest.
"This is one of the beginning steps to identify a lung nodule, so we can help make sure if it is cancer, it's caught early," says Deidra Teoh, who is a Nurse Navigator for Memorial Hermann.
The screening tool is a low-dose computed tomography, or CT scan, which helps doctors search for suspicious areas in the chest.
"It was quick and pretty painless, so I would encourage people to do it, including people such as myself," says Dr. Garb.
Low-dose radiation, is the key here. "I think the exposure is minimal, same as flying over the country, so I don't see what the downside is," says Dr. Garb. "We want to get it out, so we can save lives!" exclaims Deidra. She goes on to say, "High risk individuals ages 55-74 are recommended to be screened. They have a history of smoking, 30 year pack history, or if they're an ex smoker it would be 20 year a pack history."
Since studies show that it's harder to quit smoking tobacco than cocaine or heroin, doctors suggest smokers start with a cessation program, because it's hard to quit on your own. "You're at risk for lung cancer if you have lungs. Just like you're at risk for breast cancer, if you have breasts, and guys have them too," Deidra reminds us.
Lung cancer on the rise in women, who have even surpassed men in lung cancer deaths. Lung cancer is also on the rise in non-smokers.
Insurance does not cover this yet, which is why Memorial Hermann reduced the price to 150-dollars. It just takes a few minutes and it's already saving lives.
For more information, visit http://www.memorialhermann.org/locations/southwest/lung-nodule-clinic/.