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Letter from my wife to our local paper

Nick C

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Hopefully they print it...

My mother-in-law passed away recently at age 56, one month after discovering she had lung cancer that had spread to the brain, bone and liver. How can it be cancer, not again? Following her successful battle against breast cancer, Randy had adhered to her doctor’s protocol and had received annual chest x-rays and tumor marker blood tests. We were all under the false impression that she was cancer free. Unfortunately, chest x-rays fail to reveal 85% of the early-stage cancers detected by the CT scans, according to the International Early Lung Cancer Action Program (“I-ELCAP”). She had been getting the wrong tests for 10 years!

According to the I-ELCAP, early-stage lung cancer does not have any symptoms. Therefore, lung cancers are rarely discovered until they have progressed to a late stage where they are almost untreatable. In contrast with the typical low cure rate, it is known that cancers found in the early stage are highly curable. According to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine, CT screening finds over 80% of lung cancers in this early stage.

Some argue that having a CT scan could raise false alarms, or perhaps provide an early diagnosis that leads to the same deadly outcome. Would early detection from a low dose CT scan have definitely saved my mother-in-law? Since early detection has led to improved survival rates for many other types of cancer, logically the same should be true for early stage lung cancer. Furthermore, there is now research to support it!

One of Randy’s last wishes was that the protocols for doctors be changed so that the high risk population has a better chance at early detection of lung cancer and potentially greater life expectancy. November is Lung Cancer Awareness month and the conclusion of the recently published research from I-ELCAP is clear, “Annual spiral CT screening can detect lung cancer that is curable.”

If you currently fall into a high-risk category, ask your doctor about a low-dose spiral CT scan or call Greenwich hospital, a participating member of I-ELCAP.

Lung Cancer Alliance recommends that the following people have a detailed discussion with their physician regarding the potential risks and benefits of undergoing a baseline CT scan:

• Any smoker or former smoker over age 50 with a greater than 10 pack year history of cigarette smoking. (A pack year is equal to one pack a day for one year);

• Any adult with significant exposure to cigarettes and a first degree relative (mother, father, sister, brother, son or daughter) who was diagnosed with lung cancer before age 50.

The following groups should also consider a discussion about screening with their doctors:

• Veterans who had active duty on submarines, in Vietnam or the Gulf War, and had exposure to asbestos, nuclear propulsion, herbicides, battlefield emissions or other carcinogens;

• Past and present employees in munitions plants (who may already be eligible for free screening under the Department of Energy’s Worker Health Protection Program);

• People exposed regularly to second-hand smoke (i.e. airline personnel, hospitality industry workers), or radon, or those working with asbestos or other known carcinogens.

Some facts about lung cancer as reported by the Lung Cancer Alliance or I-ELCAP:

• Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

• The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimated that in 2005 there would be 172,570 new cases of lung cancer and 163,510 deaths. This indicates a cure rate of roughly 5%.

• The ACS further projects that in 2006, lung cancer will kill 73,020 women and 90,470 men.

• Lung cancer will kill more people this year than: breast, prostate, colon, liver and kidney cancer combined.

Keri Cappiello is a resident of Ridgefield, CT and a Finance Associate at The Thomson Corporation, headquartered in Stamford, CT. As a participant in the Lung Cancer Alliance advocacy network, she is also dedicated to the organization’s goals of educating public policy leaders of the need for greater resources for lung cancer research while changing the face of lung cancer and reducing the stigma associated with the disease.

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That was awesome. I hope it goes to print. I am advocating for a Lung Cancer License plate in NC for state Lung Association. specialty plate with proceeds to State Lung association for research and awareness. It is a start.

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WONDERFUL!! I do so hope they print it!!! It's amazing how many people read those kinds of things and their jaws drop...and sometimes that "WOW! I never knew that!" turns into their telling someone else and BOOM...we have information spreading all around quickly!

I love it!! Great Job!!!

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Way to go Keri & Nick,

That certainly got their attention. If this just helps one person get diagnoised by a chest or Ct scan than Lord knows that would be wonderful.

I am so proud of Keri and I am trilled it did not go to death ears.

A+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ goes out to you Keri,

Yep Nick, you mom is smiling and she is so proud of you both !!!

Maryanne :wink:

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