How early detection can save lives, what you need to know about a lung cancer screening

Link to Hope - Screening can help beat lung cancer
Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 6:49 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) -Kentucky leads the country when it comes to lung cancer diagnosis rates and deaths, but one University of Kentucky doctor says there is more hope now than ever when it comes to screenings, treatment, and surviving.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness month.

Early detection is key when it comes to so many cancers, and now a simple screening is proving to be a link to hope when it comes to beating lung cancer in the Commonwealth.

Seven years ago, Gary Philpott, father of WKYT evening anchor Amber Philpott, heard the words no one wants to hear.

Diagnosed with lung cancer, her father had stopped smoking years earlier, but it was still a gut punch.

He underwent treatment, the cancer was under control, but earlier this year, he had a reoccurrence.

Philpott’s family knows the strides made in Kentucky regarding lung cancer treatment.

Dr. Timothy Mullett at the University of Kentucky says there is a lot of hope right now when it comes to facing the disease, and that starts with early screening

“Lung cancer screening is an effective way to be able to find lung cancer in its earliest stage,” said Dr. Timothy Mullett.

Like in many cancers, early detection can be lifesaving, and a lung cancer screening is no different.

“In that early stage of lung cancer, we can have a better opportunity for being able to offer surgery to those patients, potentially be able to have curative surgery and not need any other treatment at all,” said Dr. Mullett.

Early screening for lung cancer is simple and easy with an annual low-dose CT scan.

So how do you know if you qualify for a screening?

“We think about it as this, 50 plus 15. So people that are over 50, who have a tobacco exposure of over 15 years even if they have quit,” said Dr. Mullett.

He says people should know the risk factors but also should be talking to their healthcare providers to see if they qualify for the screenings.

“We need to make this part of the workflow of our primary care doctor conversation. We need to make this part of our thought process when we go in to see the doctor say okay, what should I be asking him about,” said Dr. Mullett.

For families living with lung cancer like Amber Philpott’s father, they are thankful for the improvements in treatment and care; it’s their link to hope.

And Dr. Mullett says there is a lot of hope in treating this disease, now more than ever.

“For those people that are diagnosed, we have treatments today that are much more effective than we were seeing five, ten years ago, and I’ve said it before, it’s not your grandfather’s lung cancer,” said Dr. Mullett.

A diagnosis of late-stage lung cancer is improving, it was 80%, and Dr. Mullett says in the last five years, that number has declined to about 70%.

For more on screenings and the risk factors, click here.