As former smokers, Cathy and Paul both experienced the benefits of Missouri Baptist Medical Center’s (MoBap) early lung cancer screening program. During the screening, a low dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan is performed that can detect nodules or suspicious spots on the lungs, helping doctors determine if further tests are needed.
Cathy Receives Unexpected News
Cathy smoked for 40 years before quitting in 2014. When her primary care physician recommended a lung cancer screening because of her risk factors, Cathy agreed to the test. “I lost my mother to lung cancer, and I didn’t want to face a similar cancer diagnosis,” she says.
For two years, Cathy had yearly LDCT screenings. Then, in 2019, radiologists were concerned about a tiny mass in her left bronchi, the passageway connecting the windpipe to the lungs. Cathy was scheduled for a biopsy and PET scan.
Following the tests, MoBap nurse navigator Beth Arenas, BSN, RN, called to tell Cathy that the biopsy results showed stage 1 non-small cell carcinoma, and the PET scan confirmed the likelihood of cancer. “When I heard ‘cancer,’ I was scared,” she says. “Beth was reassuring and was by my side to coordinate appointments. She handled a lot of details and provided so much help and support.”
Beth kept in touch with Cathy about her next screening appointment. “LDCT lung screening can save lives by detecting lung cancer at its earliest stage when it is more curable. Eligibility criteria have changed to include younger people at high risk.”
The next month, the MoBap cardiothoracic team removed Cathy’s tumor and a small amount of surrounding tissue. After the procedure, Cathy recovered at MoBap. Because the cancer was completely removed, Cathy didn’t need chemotherapy or radiation and had a follow-up CT scan every six months for two years before transitioning back to an annual follow-up. Today, Cathy is feeling great and her scans have shown no signs of cancer.
Paul’s Scan Reveals a Nodule
Like Cathy, Paul also smoked for several years before quitting. While visiting a friend in the hospital, he saw a brochure about a lung cancer screening study and scheduled an appointment after realizing he matched some of the risk factors for lung cancer.
He started annual LDCT screening tests and, in 2021, received a phone call from MoBap nurse navigator Bridget Switzer, BSN, RN, that the test showed a suspicious nodule. Bridget referred him to Shiraz Daud, MD, a pulmonologist on staff at MoBap.
Paul was scheduled for a two-month follow-up LDCT scan and PET scan to see if the nodule grew. “Waiting was hard, but Bridget was always available to answer questions. She made everything easy.”
After completing the follow-up tests, Paul received the news that the nodule was no longer visible and that he didn’t have cancer. “It was a relief,” he says.
Advocates for Screening
Paul is a big advocate for MoBap’s lung cancer screening program and talks to family, friends and even strangers about getting tested. “Everyone is receptive to hearing about how early detection is key for the best treatment outcome,” he says. “The support system at MoBap is great.”
Cathy also talks to her family and friends about the importance of getting screened. “I’m so thankful for MoBap’s lung cancer screening program,” she says. “I had great care, and I’m an example of how screening can save lives with early detection.”
Call 855-399-LUNG (5864) or visit missouribaptist.org/lung to speak with a nurse navigator.