News 6 - January 29, 2024 5:52 am

A new study says Oklahoma ranks 40th in the country for the number of people who survive lung cancer.

Doctors have recently changed the guidelines for who can get screened for lung cancer, but in Oklahoma, only 1.7% of people who are eligible to get screened actually do.

Dr. Mark Boomer at Saint Francis says we can significantly impact the survival rates of lung cancer by screening people more often.

“Patients are somewhat afraid to pursue that because they are afraid of a diagnosis of lung cancer, and the devastating connotations,” he said.

Dr. Boomer says the guidelines to get screened have changed from someone who’s smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years to someone who’s smoked a pack a day for 20 years.

They also lowered the age from 55 to 50.

Dr. Boomer says so many people die from lung cancer because it’s found so late.

“If you are diagnosed at stage 1, the five-year survival rate is anywhere, depending on the study and what they do, from 63% to 90%, whereas the average survival in Oklahoma was 18.8%,” he said.

He says lung cancer is typically found incidentally like if you’re getting an x-ray for a separate surgery and a mass is found.

“It’s an asymptomatic disease; it sits in your lungs, and it grows, it gets bigger and it spreads, and you don’t know,” he said.

He says a lot of what he wants to change is the stigma behind having lung cancer and people who smoke thinking they deserve it.

“We’re not here to prescribe blame; we’re here to fix your problem,” he said.

Boomer says you should be able to be screened for lung cancer at your primary care doctor.


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