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In recognition of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, the Tift Regional Medical Center Anita Stewart Oncology Center is joining with the G20 Foundation and 200 other health care facilities across the country to “Shine a Light on Lung Cancer.”

TIFTON — In recognition of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, the Tift Regional Medical Center Anita Stewart Oncology Center is joining with the G20 Foundation and 200 other health care facilities across the country to “Shine a Light on Lung Cancer.” This initiative is part of an ongoing effort to raise awareness about lung cancer and to spread the word about lung cancer prevention and screenings.

“We want to provide hope, inspiration and support for those impacted by this disease,” Jennifer Harnage, TRMC’s lung health navigator, said in a news release. “It is our desire to focus on providing information and screenings for everyone to catch lung cancer in its early stages when it is most treatable.”

As part of the hospital’s efforts to raise awareness, Tift Regional Health System and the Anita Stewart Oncology Center are encouraging area residents to commit to a healthy, smoke-free life by participating in the American Cancer Society’s 44th Great American Smokeout event on Nov. 21.

“Addiction to nicotine in cigarettes is one of the strongest and most deadly addictions one can have,” Harnage said. “Quitting is hard, but it can be accomplished. It takes commitment and starts with a plan.”

Harnage said getting help through counseling and/or prescription medications can double or triple the chances of quitting successfully.

“The American Cancer Society offers a great program called Quit for Life that can help get smokers started,” she said. “Go to www.QuitNow.com or call (800) 227-2345 for more information.”

According to Harnage, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in men and women of every ethnic group in the United States. Of those affected by the disease, 17.9 percent never smoked, and around 80 percent of all those diagnosed with lung cancer are smokers or former smokers. Overall, the disease takes more lives annually than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined.

“There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke,” said Harnage. “Smoking not only causes cancer, it damages nearly every organ in the body, including the lungs, heart, blood vessels, reproductive organs, mouth, skin, eyes and bones.”

For long-term smokers who are at high risk for lung cancer, TRMC offers a lung cancer screening program using CT technology.

“Lung cancer is easiest to treat when found early,” said Harnage. “Patients can have annual low-dose CT scans to detect early-stage lung cancer much like mammography is used to detect early stages of breast cancer. These low-dose CT scans for lung cancer will save lives, and patients typically need to have the scan only once per year.”

The CT lung screening program at TRMC is available to people ages 55 to 80 who have smoked at least an average of one pack a day for 30 years. This includes current smokers or smokers who have quit within the past 15 years.

A scan is taken of the patient’s chest using a CT scanner. The images taken of the lungs are read by a radiologist to determine if there is a need for further evaluation.

“The scan time takes about 10 seconds and is painless,” Harnage said.

The cost is covered by Medicare and most other insurance companies for qualified patients. Lung screenings are available by appointment only. In some cases, lung screenings may not be appropriate for certain patients. Patients should talk to their primary care provider about ordering the screening if they think they may be at risk.

To learn more, visit www.TiftRegional.com/LungScreening or call (229) 353-3788.

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