Avera Medical Minute AMcK: Shining a light on Lung Cancer - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Avera Medical Minute AMcK: Shining a light on Lung Cancer

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Dr. Ben Solomon looks over a CT scan of a patient where lung cancer was found Dr. Ben Solomon looks over a CT scan of a patient where lung cancer was found

It's the most common form of cancer and also most deadly: lung cancer. It's estimated that roughly half a million Americans are currently fighting the disease. Preventative screenings are bringing those numbers down, but there is still plenty of work to be done.

Ashley Elliott knows lung cancer all too well. After losing her grandmother and an aunt, the disease attacked even closer to home.

"Mom was diagnosed May 2011 and she passed away in September 2011." Said Elliott.

Three months after her mother Ginger Doherty passed, Ashley went back to the hospital only this time it was for her dad.

"Once they did the CT scan we just knew... But it's still tough to hear the actual 'C' word." Said Elliott.

The scan discovered stage four lung cancer and a terminal diagnosis. Robert Doherty passed away just six months later.

"I just knew that there was something that I we, my brothers and I, my family needed to learn from it." Said Elliott.

Ashley gave up smoking and started making healthy choices to limit the chance that she too falls victim of the disease.  

"It's really hard, it's an addiction and so I have to make a choice every day not to smoke and also my son." Said Elliott.

Compared to the others, lung cancer takes no prisoners. 

"When you add both breast and prostate cancer deaths together for men and women there is double the amount of deaths due to lung cancer." Said Dr. Ben Solomon, an oncologist with the Avera Medical Group McHale Institute.

A big reason for the high mortality rate is because symptoms tend to not show up until it's too late.

"That's why screening is always thought to be very important, most commonly patients present with more advanced stages and may not have a curative option." Said Dr. Solomon.

Lung cancer isn't the easiest disease to find in it's early stages, but CT scans have proven to be most effective. Patients who have smoked the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years would be eligible for a CT scan. Doctors can then develop a plan for treatment if cancer is found.  

"The way we like to approach earlier stages of lung cancer is with surgery and then sometimes with other techniques like chemotherapy and radiation to try and decrease the chance of recurrence." Said Dr. Solomon.

Even with all the advances in care lung cancer has taken far too many loved ones. Ashley is just one person fighting back through the Shine a Light on Lung Cancer Vigil.

"It's to honor people that we've lost, people that are still fighting, also to spread awareness and then if people want to donate money they can to support lung cancer screening and early prevention." Said Elliott.

The screenings were too late for Ashley's parents, but by increasing awareness she's hoping other families get the chance hers never did.

If you would like to participate, the Shine a Light on Lung Cancer Vigil will be held on Saturday November 16 from 2 to 4pm at the Prairie Center on the Avera McKennan Campus. For more information about lung cancer screenings call 877-AT-AVERA. 


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