Dr. Ryan Hall, CARTI
Cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide and in Arkansas, lung cancer is one of the top cancers we treat. While many factors contribute to lung cancer, there is a clear indication that tobacco use substantially increases the risk of developing cancer. Even more alarming is that many of the same chemicals found in traditional cigarettes can also be found in smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes or vapes. Statistics say that one in 20 Americans vape and that there has been an increase of nearly 1800% in youth vape use as of a 2018 poll. 1 We certainly do not have long-term data on e-cigarettes and vapes compared to cigarettes, mainly due to the recency of the products. However, we know that smoking any substance (cigarettes, cigars, marijuana, peyote, etc.) irritates the airways and chronic inflammation over a significant period of time increases the risk for cancer.
If you are a current or former smoker aged 55 to 77 in generally good health with no signs of lung cancer and have a history of smoking at least 30 pack years, CARTI’s lung screening program may be worth checking into. What are 30 pack years? We’ve devised a simple math equation to help: multiply the number of packs of cigarettes smoked a day by the number of years that you smoked. To reach 30 pack years, you would need to smoke a pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years.
At CARTI, we have the tools to help lung cancer patients, especially when caught early. Our treatment options include superior imaging to see exactly what we’re dealing with, excellent interventional radiologist and interventional pulmonologists and a range of treatments.
Just the other day, I saw a patient in follow-up for his Stage I lung cancer. We were able to get this patient in for screening because his primary care doctor recognized that the patient was a candidate for screening since he had smoked from age 18 to 60. The patient did not present with any symptoms and was relatively healthy at the time of the screening. He is now over a year from his definitive treatment and has been living a completely normal life. He is still traveling and engaging in hobbies. Just based on his pathology from his lung cancer, had we not caught this cancer early we would have been discussing a Stage IV diagnosis instead of his new grandbaby.
A routine low-cost CT scan of the chest is all it takes and when we look at all sorts of screening measures such as mammograms, colonoscopies, PSAs, the CT lung screening is the most likely to find something and save a person’s life, including those who are completely asymptomatic. All it takes is a physician referral or, if you meet criteria, a self-referral.
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