Low-dose CT scan saves CTX woman from lung cancer

Posted at 5:19 PM, Nov 16, 2017
and last updated 2018-11-03 15:20:03-04

Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer of men and women in the U.S. because it can go undetected for such a long time.

Therefore, Ascension's Providence Hospital in Waco is doing what they can to help catch lung cancer early before it spreads. Within the last year, they have conducted 143 patient screenings, done five biopsies and saved one life. 

Meet Max Nolen. The one. 

"I didn't quit because I didn't have to, and I was 27. I was bulletproof," Max Nolen said. 

Nolen smoked cigarettes for a good portion of her life. But, she said enough was enough because she didn't want to have to tell her grandchildren.

"I'm sorry I'm not gonna be at your graduation."

So, on May 14th, 2002...

"I put the cigarette out, and I said, Lord, I don't want to be a slave. Don't let me do it again. Just keep me safe from it... and I did," Nolen added. 

Fast forward 14 years to Nolen walking out of an appointment and telling her doctor…

"In 11 days I need you to give me a high five mentally because it'll be a 14 year anniversary of my quitting smoking. He stopped dead-still in his tracks, said let's go back in here, he sat back down in the chair and I sat down and he said tell me about your smoking history."

Nolen's primary physician ordered a low-dose CT scan for her that day.

"If you wait until you have symptoms, which is what we've been doing all along, then you end up with patients that have already hit Stage 4 or very advanced cancer that you cannot impact survival," Maydee Rosario, a pulmonologist at Providence Hospital, said.

Just like a colonoscopy for colon cancer or a mammogram for breast cancer, Nolen was scanned for lung cancer. And that's how they were able to find the tumor.

Had Nolen's tumor gone undetected, it could have spread throughout her entire body.

"Don't you even think about hesitating. Don't even consider not doing it. It's so simple. Five little bitty minutes, and it can save your life. It did," Nolen said. 

If you're at high risk for lung cancer, ask your doctor about a low-dose CT scan. According to the American Lung Association, approximately nine million Americans are eligible. 

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