Healthier Me: Lung Screening Helps Detect Cancer in Patients

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Nearly 40 million Americans smoke cigarettes and now more than ever, they're being encouraged to quit.

Valley News Team's, Danielle Barber, explains why it's important to take preventative action when it comes to lung health.

"I was scared," said lung screening patient, Renee Buckman. "I was very scared. I thought oh my god."

Renee is a former smoker. Her doctor urged her to get a lung cancer screening which she now credits for saving her life.

"Without the screening, I wouldn't have known," she said. "And, now that they did find it, I got it at a very early stage."

The screening is aimed at current smokers or former smokers, who have quit within the last fifteen years, between the ages of 55 and 77.

"The sooner you quit the better," said Zeke Reynolds, an exercise physiologist. "But, just because you quit doesn't mean you're not at risk for lung cancer. And, the further out you get the lower the risk becomes, but certainly you're still at risk even though you've quit smoking."

Even if you only quit smoking for a day, Reynolds said any little bit will help.

"You notice health benefits if you've quit for an hour," said Reynolds. "But, yea, one day, one week, one year. And, like I said, once you get 15 years out, we don't even recommend it because you're essentially at the same risk as a non-smoker."

Because lung cancer is often not detected until it's at a later stage, the screening can be life-saving.

"Early stage lung cancer is actually very treatable and curable as we've seen with some of our patients," Reynolds said. "The later it gets obviously the more difficult and complex it becomes to treat."

"People that have lung cancer, they don't know it until it is at a bad stage because there's no pain, there's no really any signs," added Renee.

Reynolds recommends patients discuss the screening with their doctor to see if it's a good fit for them.

Patients need to be referred by their primary doctor to get the lung screening.

If you meet the criteria and the results show any type of growth, you'll be referred to the appropriate care.