November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Even though we are seeing a decrease in deaths from the disease, it remains the number one cancer killer — more than prostate, breast and colon cancers combined. Part of the reason is that unless it’s caught at the early stages, when the tumor is in one area, it spreads and is often deadly.
If it is caught at an early stage, there’s good news — removal of the tumor can be done more efficiently than ever. Using robotic surgical tools, surgeons are able to perform a minimally invasive removal of the lung tumor. While not every lung resection (removal of part of the lung) can be done this way, due to the
individual’s health and complexity of the situation, overall robotic surgery can be beneficial to patients.
In addition to having more efficient surgical options, anyone with a history of smoking should schedule a lung CT scan to catch any tumors at the early stages.
“I wish people knew more about the advantages of lung cancer screenings. There used to be no good way to screen, and now CAT scans with low-dose radiation make it much easier to have proof every year that the lungs are tumor free,” said Dr. Bethany Tan, a general thoracic surgeon.
An annual lung cancer screening is recommended for anyone over 55 who has 30 pack years (having smoked around a pack a day) or has been a smoker within the last 15 years. Of course, people who are currently smoking should be screened, and know that smoking is linked to 80 to 90% of lung cancers.
To make your appointment for a CT Coronary Artery Calcium Scoring exam at the Sentara Heart & Vascular Center, call Central Scheduling at 703-523-1560.