FAIRFAX, Va. (WUSA9) -- More people die from lung cancer each year than colon, prostate, ovarian, and breast cancers combined. Experts hope new technologies, earlier screening, and changes related to the 'stigma' of lung cancer can reverse that trend.
Bootcamp style training and marathon running is part of Leanne Bowser's healthy lifestyle. She never smoked in her life, and she eats well. So you can imagine her surprise after a visit to the ER.
Bowser says, "In the middle of the night I started coughing blood and it was quite a bit so I knew something was not right. I went to the ER. It was there that I found out that I had lung cancer."
A tumor was revealed from a CT scan and the cancer was confirmed the next day. Leanne didn't know it but her risk of lung cancer was high, due to family history. Dr. Sandeep Khandhar ofInova Fairfax Hospital says everyone with high risk should be screened.
Dr. Khandhar says, "If you fall into the high-risk category, ages 55 to 74, big smoking history, family history of lung cancer, we know that at least in this group of patients, we have good solid evidence that tells us that CT scanning is of benefit."
If a tumor is detected and confirmed then it's on to the next phase.
Dr. Khandhar uses thesuperDimension system, a GPS technology that guides a scope through the airway to the lung. This way, he can get a closer look at that tumor.
Dr. Khandhar says, "To be able to definitively diagnose something as benign or cancerous. It allows access to portions of the lung where we didn't have accuracy to get out to.
After early detection, aTriStaple with a camera can be inserted using 2 small incisions. It allows removal of the tumor and parts of the lung if needed. This procedure is an alternative to a major, intensive surgery where large incisions are needed.
LeAnne had two lobes of her right lung removed using this minimally invasive procedure. She was discharged from the hospital in two days, and she ran theRichmond marathon 6 months later.
Bowser says, "I am very blessed to be able to say that I was able to run at about 6 or 7 months after my surgery, at a slower pace, but I could do it."
Dr. Khandhar stressesthat lung cancer is not always caused by smoking, there are other genetic and environmental factors that may cause the disease. Also, it's not a death sentence, 85 percent of lung cancers are detected at a late stage. So earlier screening for people at highriskcan save many lives.