It’s the third most common cancer, but doctors say lung cancer is the number one killer of all cancers. Dr. Sharik Rathur, a radiologist on the medical staff of Lee Health, says most cases are caused by smoking. “80 to 90 percent of lung cancers are caused by smoking. The number one thing you can do to prevent lung cancer is to stop smoking.”
Because most cases are found after the cancer has spread many patients don’t survive their diagnosis. “Usually by the time you get symptoms it’s already too late, the cancer cannot be treated,” said Dr. Rathur. But a new screening program is helping doctors find small nodules before they spread. “In 2010, there was a lung cancer screening trial that showed low dose lung cancer screening CT can decrease the mortality of lung cancer by 20 percent. So this low dose CT scan can find cancer before it spreads outside the lungs,” said Dr. Rathur.
In the last two years, Lee Health has used the program to screen patients early for lung cancer. Patients who qualify for the screening are those considered high risk for developing lung cancer, like patients who are current smokers or who quit smoking in the last 15 years, and patients who have no symptoms and those who are 55 and up. High risk patients are screened every year to make sure cancer hasn’t developed.
“We can see small nodules the size of a grain of rice and we can identify those and follow them up,” said Dr. Rathur.
The goal is to find the cancer early, offer patients treatment, and save more lives.
View More Health Matters video segments at LeeHealth.org/Healthmatters/
Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health - Caring People. Inspiring Care.