Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women,* but chances of survival are better if it is diagnosed early. Georgene Adkins can attest to this firsthand.
She first realized something might be wrong when she had bronchitis. “I couldn’t get rid of this cough,” she says. Her doctor ordered a chest X-ray, and then she had a low-dose radiation computerized tomography (LDCT) scan at Manatee Diagnostic Center. A biopsy confirmed her diagnosis of non-small cell lung cancer. This is the most common type, which usually grows and spreads more slowly.
Adkins was referred to board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon John C. Brock, MD, at Manatee Memorial Hospital, where she also met Kelsie Corry, RN, BSN. As a nurse navigator, Corry provides extra support for patients throughout treatment and is often there with them when they learn about their diagnosis. “They’re awesome, they both made me feel like they were going to do their very best for me,” Adkins says of her medical team. “I wasn’t just another person coming into their office, they made me feel like I was special.”
“The good thing is we caught it early, at stage 1,” explains Corry. Treatment entailed a video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) lobectomy to remove the affected part of the lobe. With this minimally invasive approach, a tiny video camera and surgical instruments are inserted through three small incisions, and the surgeon is guided by images projected on a computer monitor.
Adkins was especially grateful that she did not need radiation or chemotherapy and is now cancer-free. “I was a smoker, not a heavy smoker,” she says. Her message for others is to talk with their doctor and be proactive about screening. “Early detection is key,” says Corry. “It saves a lot of lives, and it saved Georgene’s life.”
Who is eligible for lung cancer screening?
- Age 55 to 77 years old
- A 30-pack year or greater history of smoking (a “pack year” is calculated from multiplying the number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day by the number of years you have smoked)
- Either currently smoke or have quit in the past 15 years
- No symptoms of lung cancer such as cough, shortness of breath or chest pain
A low-dose-radiation computerized tomography (LDCT) scan takes only 60 seconds to complete and is covered by Medicare and most insurance plans. It requires a referral from your doctor.
Manatee Diagnostic Center and Manatee Memorial Hospital have been designated as Lung Cancer Screening Centers by the American College of Radiology (ACR) and have also been named Lung Screening Centers of Excellence by the Lung Cancer Alliance. Both take part in the ACR Lung Cancer Screening Registry, which is designed to systematically audit the quality of interpretation of lung screening CT exams.
*American Cancer Society