This real-life story about an Emory CT lung screening patient is just one example of how ct screening for lung cancer can save a life.
Becky Huff had been seeing radiologists just to follow up on findings of calcification after a mammogram. A CT scan of her breasts detected nodules in her lungs. Now 67, she quit smoking more than two decades ago. Becky was wondering whether working in a smoke-filled office also contributed to her cancer risk.
For the next two years Emory doctors monitored her lungs with CT lung screening every six months. Pulmonologist Gerald Staton led the group. Then, a change in the appearance of the nodules, along with an inconclusive biopsy, led her to consult an Emory thoracic surgeon Allan Pickens. He recommended a unique type of imaging — a PET scan — to gauge the possibility that cancer had spread.
“To me, that was another safeguard that they knew what they needed to do beforehand,” Becky says.
Using two small incisions on the side of Becky’s body, Dr. Pickens removed the upper lobe of her left lung. Two months later, in a similar procedure, he removed a segment from her right lung. When pathologists examined the removed tissue and samples from her lymph nodes, they detected no signs that the tumors had infiltrated the lymph nodes. That meant she could forgo chemotherapy and radiation.
“This is an example of when we were able to get there early, before the cancer has progressed,” Dr. Pickens said.
Becky’s recovery from the surgeries included some pain. She had trouble finding a comfortable sleeping position and needed to take pain medicine for a couple of weeks. Yet, she had avoided surgeries that would open the chest.
“I did get over the surgery a lot quicker than other people that I’ve seen,” Becky said.
Around the time of her surgeries in the spring of 2011, Becky had begun taking piano lessons. While raising five children, she had always wanted to learn to play. Now, five years after her surgeries and a reassuring PET scan this year, she continues to learn piano and stays active with frequent walks on her family’s wooded property in Talbot County, Georgia.
A physician’s order is required for CT lung screening. If you don’t currently have a care provider; you may meet with one of Emory team members to determine if CT lung screening is right for you.
Visit emoryhealthcare.org/lungct to learn more about screening qualifications.
Tags: ct lung screening, lung cancer, lung cancer diagnosis, lung cancer screening, lung cancer surgery, lung cancer treatment, lung ct patient story, lung ct screening, Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University