Lung Cancer Answers, on Monday's Answer Desk
Lung cancer is a lot more cureable than in the past, in part because of screenings that can be done for at risk people, even before symptoms are evident.
Dr. Leslie Kohman, Outreach Director at the Upstate Cancer Center, says 'at risk' means adults aged 55 to 80 years who have a 30 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years. The screening is an annual low-dose computed tomography (LDCT).
The doctors who treat lung cancer also point out that survival rates are better because of better medical techniques. Dr. Michael Mix, a radiation oncologist at the Upstate Cancer Center, says radiation techniques have become more specific, and can hit even small stage 1 tumors. Immuno-therapy techniques are also more effective. Upstate Thoracic Surgeon Dr. Jason Wallen says that minimally invasive procedures allow for smaller incisions, eliminating the 'old' post operative problems of pneumonia and pain.
Even though lung cancer is not exclusively a smokers' disease, a lot of screening and prevention is aimed at smokers. Deborah Mendzef, who coordinates the CNY Regional Center for Tobacco Health Systems at St. Joseph's Health says there's a lot of support, as well as treatments and medications that can help people go tobacco-free.
With New Year's coming up, and the #1 resolution expected to be 'quit smoking' (again), she points to the 1-866-NY Quits helpline that operates 24x7, or the NYsmokefree.com website.
The Answer Desk returns next Monday evening on NBC3, with help in navigating the NY State of Health health insurance program.