WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The leading type of cancer isn’t breast cancer, colon cancer or pancreatic cancer. It’s lung cancer which claims the lives of more than 400 Americans each day. Experts blame that number in part on a lack of scanning for at-risk individuals.
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and as Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller explains, part of that awareness is a national campaign explaining the benefits of lung cancer screening.
48,000. That’s roughly how many lives the American Lung Association says would be saved if the eight million Americans considered at high risk for lung cancer were screened. Lung cancer survivor Milli Wilson was among them.
“I’ve been able to turn my mess into my message,” she said.
Ms. Wilson and Thoracic Medical Oncologist Jacob Sands, MD are getting the word out about a campaign called Saved By The Scan.
“It was found through the scan that I had a large mass in my upper right lobe,” said Ms. Wilson.
Further testing last year revealed the Albuquerque, New Mexico woman had stage one adenocarcinoma.
“I didn’t have any symptoms whatsoever. Not even a cough,” she said.
The cancer was still tiny and hadn’t spread. But the former smoker of 45 years wouldn’t have even had a lung scan if not for an American Lung Association PSA she saw. It warned about the risk former smokers may still face and the low dose CT scan that’s available to catch lung cancer while it’s highly treatable.
Dr. Sands who participated in Thursday’s national satellite media tour outreach said, “You have viewers right now who qualify for lung screening but maybe haven’t really known about it and unfortunately some of them likely have an early stage lung cancer that nobody yet knows.”
Saved By The Scan targets former smokers between 55 and 80 whose last cigarette was in the last 15 years. They’re encouraged to check out the Saved By The Scan website: something Wilson is beyond grateful she did.
“It could save your life. It certainly did mine,” she said.
Ms. Wilson who is now 62 underwent surgery and chemo treatment and just last month marked one year cancer-free.