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Event offers information on lung cancer risk

Jefferson City Medical Group (JCMG) and St. Mary’s Health Center (SMHC) are co-hosting an event Thursday that will feature a discussion about lung cancer.

The event, titled “Lung Cancer: Could You Be at Risk?” is from 5:30-7 p.m. at Hawthorn Bank Community Room, 3600 Amazonas Drive.

SMHC and JCMG oncologists, radiologists and surgeons will discuss the risks, symptoms, how to be screened for the disease and treatment.

“Obviously, the biggest risk factor for lung cancer is smoking,” said Dr. John Bechtel, a SMHC

radiation oncologist who will speak at the event. “It’s fairly uncommon to see someone with lung cancer who was not a smoker.”

He said a few additional risks include exposure to asbestos — a mineral found in building materials — and exposure to radon — a natural element that comes up from the earth’s crust.

“Radon can accumulate in people’s basements,” Bechtel said. “People can get a house radon-tested and above a certain level is unsafe.”

He said lung cancer screening has been studied for years, but is just now being used.

“Low-dose CT scanners really do work (to diagnose lung cancer),” Bechtel said. “Seventy to 80 percent of cases are generally diagnosed at Stage 3 or 4, but the screening a lot of times allows us to catch it at Stage 1 or 2, which is best. There’s a lot more options for patients.”

JCMG recommends lung cancer screening for patients who meet two criteria: smokers and former smokers (who have quit in the last 15 years) ages 55-74 years old; and those who have a smoking history of at least 30 pack-years (also includes smokers of 20 pack-years with a family history of lung cancer).

Pack-years are the maximum number of packs smoked per day, multiplied by the total number of years smoked.

If you meet the criteria, JCMG advises you to contact your physician about having a low-dose CT lung cancer screening.

If you are interested in learning more about the risks, symptoms, screening process and treatment of lung cancer, RSVP for Thursday’s event by calling 761-7156 or visit lethealingbegin.com/rsvp.

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