Recommending a lung cancer screening
When Charles Hoffman went to see Dr. Laura Howard for a routine checkup, he felt fine. Little did he know that within weeks he would be diagnosed with lung cancer and undergo a lobectomy at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital.
“Dr. Howard mentioned that I was a candidate for a new lung screening program,” says Charles. “I quit smoking 10 years ago, and I didn’t have any symptoms that concerned me, but I thought ‘why not?’ Better safe than sorry.”
Charles’ CT screening at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital unfortunately showed stage 1 lung cancer.
“I had no pain, no cough, nothing to indicate a problem,” says Charles. “I am so grateful that they were able to spot it so quickly.”
After discovering the tumor, the doctors removed it in less than a month. Dr. Christopher Willms, a thoracic surgeon at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, performed Charles' minimally invasive lobectomy. Catching the cancer early meant that Charles didn’t require follow up radiation or chemotherapy treatments.
“If Charles hadn't had a CT scan, he could've gone for another year or more before having symptoms, and the cancer would’ve spread,” explains Dr. Willms. “Most patients who have lung cancer don't get diagnosed until they are in the more advanced stages, when the cancer is much more difficult to treat or may not be treatable at all. Studies have shown a decrease in deaths from lung cancer by 20 percent when screenings catch it early.”
Charles was pleased with the attentiveness of his doctors and staff, and also with the speed of his care.
“The doctors answered every question and made sure we understood our options. I had no fears at all, he says.”
Catching the cancer early meant that Hoffman did not require any follow up radiation or chemotherapy treatments.
Dr. Howard, Charles’ primary care physician, continues to speak to patients about the screenings during annual checkups:
“It’s so important for Medicare patients to come in and get their annual wellness visits,” she says. “It’s a time for us to review what screenings patients are eligible for or due for. That was the case with Charlie, and I’m so glad that his cancer was caught, and he’s doing so well.”