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CNN- lung cancer story


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There was a segment on lung cancer on CNN with Aaron Brown in which he touched on all points that LCSC and everyone really, have been shouting about for years.

He was shocked at the number of people dx. with LC

He was shocked at how many more women die of LC than of breast cancer. And he made a point to say that there needed to be early detection screening.

There was a related human interest story on a woman who never smoked and was dx. with lung cancer...she was amazing. She talked about the grim statistics, she talked about the stigma, she talked about how LC needed public awareness, acceptance and desperately needed more funding. She said that everyone is a rick for LC.

This was a very important segment.

Here is the transcript of that segmentBROWN:

----->Boy, is that the truth. I don't know her any better than you know her. I mean, we know her all the same in that way. And this was like a body blow today, wasn't it? Coming on the heels of Peter's death of Sunday night. And now this. More than 170,000 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year. Most of them, over 80 percent, will be smokers or former smokers, their average age at diagnosis will be 70.

But most is not all. Dana Reeve is 44, and from what we've learned today, apparently not a smoker. She is not most. She is also not the only one.

Here's CNN's Elizabeth Cohen.



ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Three winters ago, Sandy Britt had a feeling that something was terribly wrong.

SANDY BRITT, DIAGNOSED WITH LUNG CANCER: I had noticed over the winter that I was getting one cold after the other.

COHEN: Sandy, who was 43, told her doctor she was worried about lung cancer. Her father and brother had died of the disease. She says the doctor told her not to worry.

BRITT: I could have been saved. I was -- you know, at that point, it was completely curable, and now it's not. Now I have a terminal diagnosis.

COHEN: Three years later, her suspicions turned out to be true. She was diagnosed with lung cancer so advanced it had already spread to other parts of her body.

Doctors told her she had eight months to live.

BRITT: I really believe that the reason I was ignored was that I was a young, healthy-looking woman who never smoked.

COHEN: Sandy Britt, Dana Reeve, part of a group you don't hear much about. Studies show that as many as 17 percent of newly-diagnosed lung cancer patients are lifelong non-smokers, 80 percent of those patients are women.

COHEN: That's approximately 11,000 women diagnosed each year, and the overall survival rates for lung cancer are grim: six out of 10 people will die within a year of being diagnosed; eight out of 10 people will die within two years.

BRITT: There is a whole subculture of us that people don't know about, and if I can get lung cancer, if Dana Reeve can get lung cancer, then nobody is safe. Anyone can get lung cancer.

COHEN: Sandy says it's bad enough that she has a fatal disease, but people who don't know her well often assume she brought it on herself. But she's never smoked, not ever.

BRITT: People don't care, because they say, well, you know, you smoked, you brought it on yourself. It absolutely infuriates me to have lung cancer, to have a smoker's disease when I actually hate smoking. You know, I belong to Americans for Non-Smokers Rights. I do everything possible my whole life to avoid it.

COHEN: Sandy is fighting for more money for lung cancer research.

BRITT: Twice as many women die of lung cancer than breast cancer, but breast cancer is something that everybody knows women get. So I think it's just more -- it's more logical, it's more easy to accept.

COHEN: Her statistics are on target. But today, thanks to an experimental therapy, Sandy has lived three months longer than her doctors expected. But she's also writing her will.

BRITT: One to five years. If I'm lucky, I'll live five years. I mean, it could be anytime.

COHEN: While she's still alive...

BRITT: You know, my mantra is, I'm a miracle, I'm going to go the distance. And I -- you know, I do hope and pray that I will be one of few that actually survives this disease. I mean, I am a realist, and I have to plan for the fact that there's a good chance I'm going to die.

COHEN: Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Atlanta.


BROWN: Scott Swanson is the director of thoracic oncology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

The breast cancer thing, when I heard that number today, I mean, seriously, I just think they have a better lobby, or they've worked the issue harder. I was kind of stunned by that. Pre-menopausal women, right? Does that tell us something about the cause?

DR. SCOTT SWANSON, MT. SINAI MEDICAL CENTER: I think it does. I think there's an issue about hormonal status in younger women. And there's a well-known estrogen receptor activity in lung cancer. So I don't think we understand it completely. But it probably is hormonally related.

BROWN: Is it something beyond the universe of all pre-menopausal women that can be screened for?

SWANSON: That's obviously the sort of million dollar question is how do you identify these things? And I don't think in the younger women we have it figured out. But clearly we don't even have it figured out in smokers. There is no...

BROWN: We don't know what triggers a cancer in an individual smoker?

SWANSON: Correct. And we don't screen smokers. There's no accepted lung cancer screening program in this country. We don't recommend X-rays, we don't recommend CT scans.

BROWN: Why don't we say, just forget for a second, setting aside -- I don't mean forget, setting aside pre-menopausal women, it's a huge universe of women we're talking about here. But if you just take the universe of smokers, people who currently smoke or people who once smoked, thinking about Peter, and say, let's do CT scans on all of them, why not do that?

SWANSON: Well, it's currently being looked at very carefully.

BROWN: But why would you not do it? It strikes me as a slam dunk.

SWANSON: I'm in your camp on this. But the counter argument is that we find lots of benign nodules. And most of the nodules are benign. So how do we separate the noise from the signal? And that's what we haven't figured out.

BROWN: I don't know, you're the doctor. I mean, is -- so you do a CT scan, you see something that looks funky, and you don't know if that thing that looks funky is cancer or just something funky, basically?


BROWN: Yes. There's no way to know without going in and...

SWANSON: Well, we're getting better at it. We can follow it over a short time and see changes in volume, changes in size. And that can trigger our concern for cancer.

BROWN: But what people say about lung cancer, or at least what I hear about it a lot, is by the time we actually see it, it's too late.

SWANSON: Well, I think if you wait for symptoms, like in Peter Jennings' case, when you're hoarse, you're losing weight, it's too late. You're...

BROWN: But if we're not...


BROWN: Right. But if you're not doing the prescreening, how do you not wait until the -- I mean, there's a catch-22 here.

SWANSON: Exactly right. In our country so far, it's said, well, you smoked, you brought it on, let's worry about breast cancer. And I think we're now, with Dana Reeve's case, realizing it's not that simple.

BROWN: Let me ask one really simple question. If your spouse smoked and quit, would you say, you know what, go get a CT scan.

SWANSON: I -- yes, I'd do that. And the reason for that is once you quit smoking your heart disease risk in five years goes back to baseline. Your lung cancer risk never goes to baseline. So you're always at risk. You need to follow those (INAUDIBLE) vigilantly.

BROWN: Thank you for coming in.

SWANSON: My pleasure.

BROWN: Thank you.

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Wow CNN is to be commended this is GREAT!! ABC has been teeing me off with their coverage. "Peter Jennings death prompts millions to quit" OK that is GREAT but what are we going to do for them if they get it??? 50% of lung cancer diagnosis are former smokers. so great they quit, but we still have no funding to learn more and have better tools to fight the disease or detect it early. GREAT Coverage ABC, keep focusing on the fact that Dana Reeves might have sung in a smokey club prompting her cancer not the fact that their could be a hormonal link to lung cancer.

I am sorry but I for some reason have this gut feeling that there really is a LOT more to lung cancer then smoking. a LOT more. Do I think it is a huge contributor...absolutely. BUT I think there is plenty more risks no one ever thought about so it is easier to say you smoked. Did you ever take one drag of a cigarette in your life..whelp that is why you have lung cancer. Seems too easy to me.

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Karma, I agree wholeheartedly. There has been a doctor, some kind of director or officer of the Cleveland Clinic on ABC all week discussing Peter Jennings and now Dana Reeve. This morning, I wanted to throw something at my TV screen -- he figured Dana Reeve got lung cancer because she had to be around smoke most of her life, even though she never smoked. He never even mentioned any of the new research or what is (isn't) being done about non-smokers.

IMO, it's like they just stop with the smoking stigma, because it's easy -- it takes the onus off of them to dig deeper. So, too bad/so sad, I guess for the Dana Reeves of the world.

As an aside, when I worked with hospitals and part of my responsibilities involved risk management, I learned how we get some of the statistics we now rely on. Hypothetically, if a homeless person came into the ER and died a few minutes later of unknown causes, unless foul play is suspected, there will be no autopsy. If that person has a cigarette or a pack of cigarettes in his/her pocket, the death is recorded as "smoking related." Like they even know.

I hope Dana Reeve does well and provides a voice that will help others. But mostly, I hope she has the support she needs to make it through all this. And what a courageous lady she is, for sure.


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This is what I am SAYING!!! UGH. It is like a hit or miss. Why could a person live in a smoking household all their life and not one of them get lung cancer? Are they just lucky? But Dana Reeves walked pass someone outside smoking so that is the cause of her lung cancer. Some rachity smoker blew smoke in this poor innocent womans face and gave her lung cancer...JEESH. That is all they want to do. I mean can they just say the words. "We are unsure of why Dana Reeves has lung cancer...we do not know cause we do not have enough DATA to know. Lung cancer is under funded so we are left with only a few option boxes to choose from on our exam form.

Here is something else funny. Some one posted on the abc board

I think someone should create a bracelet (like the yellow Livestrong ones) that says "Quit For Life" and have Peter Jennings name on it somehow. Lime green would be a good color. Proceeds could go to an organization that supports cessation of tobacco use and/or lung cancer research. What do you think?

Haha I had to laugh but I did give them the info for the breathe deep braclets plus told them about the clear color we use, as well as November being lung cancer awareness month if they want to organize something in his honor for lung cancer research.

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