Art of Aging: Lung cancer

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For many years, lung cancer has been the deadliest for both men and women, but now there's hope of turning the tide.

For many years, lung cancer has been the deadliest for both men and women, but now there's hope of turning the tide.

For 40 years, Cheryl Dusett was a pack-a-day smoker.

"I'd quit for 3 months, 9 months, and always ended up going back," said Cheryl.

After a close friend developed lung cancer, Cheryl's family doctor suggested she get a CT scan under new screening guidelines aimed at picking up cancers sooner.

She felt fine, but the test showed trouble.

"These little lines and dots are normal, but this lesion here is abnormal," said Dr. McKelvey of Main Line Health Paoli.

She says small growths like Cheryl's rarely show up on ordinary chest x-rays.

"It can hide behind the rib, behind the heart, behind the diaphragm muscle," said Dr. McKelvey.

Most growths won't be caught on x-rays until they are much larger, and often incurable.

But a landmark study in 2011 showed that screening with CT scans which create a more 3 dimensional view can cut deaths by up to 20%.

It's now recommended for high-risk people, such as smokers.

"A pack a day for 30 years or 2 packs a day for 15 years, who is actively smoking, or who quit within the last 15 years," added Dr. McKelvey.

Certain professionals, such as firefighters, metal-workers, active-duty military, or miners should also be screened with CTs, along with people who have lung diseases like COPD.

After surgery this spring, Cheryl is now cancer-free, has stopped smoking, and is back to an active life.

Cheryl says, "It was a blessing for me."

"It really did save her life," added Dr. McKelvey.

She's inspired several friends to get screened, too.

"I don't see any reason not to," said Cheryl.

To see if you are a candidate for screening, check out Main Line Health.

For basic information on screenings, see the the Centers for Disease Control website.

Related Topics:
healthart of aginghealthchecklung cancer
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