Wednesday, June 5, 2013
When my doctor asked if I ever smoked cigarettes I said yes, a long time ago, but I still worry about the damage I did to my lungs during those years. Truth is, smoking was as common back then as drinking bottled water is today. Everybody did it. And while we suspected it wasn't good for us, we continued, even when the Surgeon General added his warnings to the cigarette packs. Personally, I smoked a million Marlboros. Wish I hadn't, but I did. I started because it was the cool thing to do as a teenager. I kept smoking because I became addicted to nicotine. Finally, in my 50s, I quit and walked away from a 30-year habit that had invaded every aspect of my life. That was 15 years ago and I still worry.
More Americans die each year from lung cancer than any other cancer. Because a lot of Baby Boomers got hooked on cigarettes, we have come of age in a time when perhaps we can still do something about it. For many years, the medical profession would not perform lung X-rays because they feared the radiation would be too harmful weighed against the chance of finding something early. Now, they've changed their minds. Studies have now concluded that early detection and treatment of lung cancer is well worth the risk. Indeed, this new procedure exposes you to approximately half the natural background radiation you receive annually.
So, if you're like me, it's better to find out now, than later, which could be too late.
Thanks to Roper St. Francis, screening is now available for patients who fit all three of the following criteria:
•You're healthy, between the ages of 55-75, with no signs or symptoms of lung cancer.
•You have a 30-pack a year smoking history (1 pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years, or 2 packs a day for 15 years, etc.)
•You are a current smoker or quit smoking within the last 15 years.
I qualified under the 1 pack for 30 years formula and my doctor set up my CT scan the next day. That involved being slipped into a tube and lying still for about 30 minutes while the machine scanned my lungs and I crossed my fingers.
When the results came back, I was relieved. My doctor said my exam showed “three little dots” on my lungs and that was good news. He said seeing three dots are actually better than one because, “What are the odds cancer would break out in three places rather than one?”
He said those dots could be most anything and we would check them again in a few months to see if there's any change.
Naturally, I breathed a sigh of relief when I got the news. If you are like me, talk to you doctor and schedule a Low-Dose CT Lung Cancer Screening at one of six Roper St. Francis locations by calling (843) 402-5000.
Reach Ken at