HEALTH WATCH: Lung cancer may go undetected until it’s too late

Health Watch

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

You could have a tumor in your lungs and not know it. Dr. Sal Fidahussein of Wellstar Medical Group in LaGrange says his staff sees a lung cancer diagnosis every week. A flu patient and heavy smoker got the surprise of his life when he was screened.

“When we did the lung cancer screening on that patient he had a six centimeter mass that he had no idea was there,” said Dr. Fidahussein.

And that’s not uncommon.

“Lungs are such an organ that doesn’t have any pain receptors so you can have a mass that is growing and you have no idea until it’s too late. By the time you develop symptoms it is often too late to change the disease progression.”

The patient we just mentioned fortunately caught it in time. Dr. Fidahussein says lung cancer is one of those cancers that you screen for before you have symptoms, especially if you’re in the high risk group. That’s people 55 to 80 who’ve smoked 2 packs a day for 15 years  or 1 pack a day for 30 years. Also former smokers who’ve quit for less than 15 years. It takes about ten minutes for a lung low dose cat scan. The screening creates 3 d images of your lungs.

“Which tells us if there are any nodules or marks in your lungs that are at high risk.”

Dr. Fidahussein says former factory workers exposed to certain chemicals whether they smoked or not could be at risk.

The sooner you detect lung cancer, the better your chance for survival, but once symptoms show up such as coughing up blood, the cancer is already in the late stages.

“I urge you to approach your family members and talk to them about the screening. And make sure they do get screening and at least have a conversation with their physician at what risk level they are.”

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