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New Cancer Screening Aims to Catch Cancer Early

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LAWTON Okla_ Lung cancer is the most deadly form of cancer for both men and women, killing close to 150,000 people nationwide each year.

The Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma hope to help change that statistic with a new test that detects lung cancer much earlier. The "high-risk smokers and lung cancer screening" is less than a year old, and it's already providing hope for those affected.

Lung cancer is the second most diagnosed cancer in the United States. Much too often, the cancer is discovered in a stage where the patient is fighting the odds to survive. The Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma have a new free screening that is changing that, giving its patients a new hope to beat the disease.

"What we are trying to do is save lives with early screening and early detection of cancer," CCMH Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma COO Lane Hooton said.

It's a new program and screening that is only beginning to make its impact in southwest Oklahoma. The "high risk smokers and lung cancer screening" is blazing a new trail for the cancer center when it comes to diagnosing lung cancer in one of the most at-risk groups of people: smokers.

"This program targets a specific area, meaning people who are at high risk," Hooton said, "Ages 50-74 who have been smoking from anywhere from 15-30 years."

For a form of cancer that is often discovered much too late, the statistics show that the new screening will save lives.

"Mostly what we see here are cases in stages 3 and 4," Hooton said. "The survival rate of stages 3 and 4 lung cancer is about 15 percent, but the survival rate of stages 1 and 2, which is early on and what we are looking for with this program, is about 85 to 95 percent."

The low dose CT is something Hooton describes as a simple test that can provide immense results.

"You will go in," Hooton said. "You don't have to do any preparatory work for it all. It is a very easy test. It takes maybe ten minutes to do it."

From that ten minute test, the cancer can be detected at such an early stage that the diagnosis provides hope.

"The impact on us is huge," Hooton said. "It is going to have a huge impact on saving lives, and it's going to have a huge impact on saving costs for people, because the earlier you detect it, the less it costs to cure you."

This test has only been available for about two months, but the statistics are proving that it's already making an impact. Of the 70 patients here in Lawton that have participated in the screening, 4 cases of cancer have been diagnosed in an early stage that the patient is able to more successfully fight.

If you would like to have the high risk smokers and lung cancer screening done, all you have to do is contact the Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma. The test is free and can be scheduled at any of the center's locations in Lawton, Duncan, and Altus.

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