Nov 1, 2012 9:58 AM by Marissa Torres
It's known as an invisible killer and one of the deadliest cancers.
Lung Cancer kills more people each year than breast, colon, prostate and uterine cancers combined.
Doctors say the biggest threat is that it usually doesn't show any signs your sick until it's too late. That's why a team at Penrose Cancer Center in Colorado Springs decided to team up with the Colorado Healthy Lung Screening Program to launch a 3 year medical trial, all in the hopes of saving more lives.
Karen Blackwell is on of their first patients.
"I smoked for over 30 years, pretty much a pack a day for 30 years, both my parents were smokers; so I was raised in a smoke filled household."
Blackwell says she eventually lost her father to lung cancer, who, when diagnosed, was given only 3 to 9 months to live. Blackwell says it would not be until years later she would quit; its now been 5 years since she picked up a cigarette. And just recently, Blackwell decided to enlist in a Lung Cancer screening trial at Penrose Cancer Center. Dr. Matthew Blum is one of the doctors leading the research.
"The attempt with the lung cancer screening program has been to find these nodules early, at treatable stages, so that you can do something curative with those instead of finding them once symptoms develop."
Those symptoms generally include a persistent cough, shortness or breath, and possibly weight loss. Dr. Blum says the biggest concern is that these symptoms don't generally appear until the cancer has reached stage 3 or 4, at that point, the chances of survival are slim.
This trial is taking a look at habitual smokers, over the age of 50, by using a low dose CT scan to exam a patients lungs.
Blackwell recently got back her results, and while nothing cancerous was found, she says doctors are still concerned about a few "spots" on her lungs. She'll continue with the trial for the next 3 years with regular check ups.
In order to participate in the trial, you must meet certain guidelines. You can contact the Penrose Cancer Center or call 1-855-456-LUNG.
The study is targeting the following individuals:
· 55 to 74 years of age who have smoked a pack of cigarettes for 30 years or more
· 50 years of age or older who have smoked a pack of cigarettes for 20 years or more and have other risk factors (i.e., family history of lung cancer, other lung disease history including COPD, radon exposure, occupational exposure to silica, asbestos, diesel fumes, etc.)
(The 30 pack year history is computed as smoking one pack per day for 30-years or two packs per day for 15-years, etc. The 20 pack year history is computed as smoking one pack per day for 20-years or two packs per day for 10-years, etc.)