In Ross County, the rate of death for people with lung cancer is much higher than the rate for Ohio, and startlingly 44% higher than the U.S. rate? Part of this imbalance might be explained by the percentage of smokers in the area, which is again higher than state and national percentages.
November is designated as Lung Cancer Awareness Month, a time to focus on lung health.
Entering its fourth year, Adena Health System’s free lung cancer screening program has become a national model for excellence, and is saving lives. Since it began in Nov. 2014, almost 3,000 people have been screened. Of those, 32 have been diagnosed with lung cancer, including Lewis Robinson, 76, of Pike County.
Finding out results can be scary for some but Robinson, said “It is better to find out now than not at all.”
While visiting Adena Regional Medical Center, Robinson, age 76, overheard a nurse discussing the free lung cancer screening program with another patient. “My father died of lung cancer,” he said. “Since the disease runs in my family I thought, 'Well the screening is free, I should sign-up'.”
The no-cost lung cancer screening is done with a simple, painless, low dose, non-invasive CT scan, and is targeted to people at high risk for lung cancer. The screening identifies tumors or lesions, which may need medical attention.
Not only did lung cancer run in Robinson’s family, Robinson worked as a painter for most of his life and was a regular smoker, putting him at high risk for developing lung cancer.
“I was very impressed with how quick Adena got me in for my CT scan, and how fast the appointment actually went,” Robinson said. “After the screening, the nurse called me within two days, wanting to set-up an appointment to discuss my results.”
The screening showed, Robinson had Stage 1 lung cancer and Stage 3 kidney failure. He asmits this is something he would have never known without the testing. “I was referred by the care team to Dr. Alex Wilson, a Radiation Oncologist, at the Adena Cancer Center,” he said. “At first, I was nervous and scared of the unknown or what was to come. After the first round of radiation, I was relieved at how simple it was and I was even able to go back to work that same day.”
Robinson completed five short rounds of painless radiation therapy, which he says, “saved his life.”
“The treatment I received at the Adena Cancer Center was great,” he added. “The staff always made me feel extremely comfortable and the facility was very nice. Dr. Wilson was exceptional. I couldn’t have asked for a better doctor.”
Today, Robinson is currently cancer free and has quit smoking. He enjoys chopping wood, relaxing at home, spending time with family and golfing. All things he said he wouldn’t be able to enjoy if he had waited to get screened, or if he had never been screened.
“I am so thankful I found out I had cancer in the earlier stages,” Robinson explained. “If I would have waited, the cancer would have taken over my body. My kidneys would have failed and I would not live the life I am today. Adena saved my life.”
Candidates for Adena’s free lung cancer screening include:
- Between the ages of 55-74
- Quit smoking fewer than 15 years ago and
- Have 30 “pack years” of smoking in their recent or distant past. A “pack year” is calculated by taking the number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day and multiplying it by the number of years the person smoked. Therefore, a two-pack a day smoker, who smoked for 15 years is considered a 30-pack year smoker and should be tested.
If you or a loved one falls into this recommended group, please consider setting up a lung cancer screening. Like a mammogram, people in this group are recommended to have a lung screen each year for the greatest chance of survival in the event of a lung cancer diagnosis. To schedule a free lung cancer screening with Adena, call (740) 542-LUNG (5864).