Several forms of cancer are treatable particularly when they are caught early, and regular, early screenings are the best way to do that.
This was the crux of the message that Baptist Health COO Anthony Powers delivered to the Southern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce during its monthly membership luncheon that was held Tuesday at the Williamsburg Tourism and Convention Center.
“Early prevention, detection is really the key,” Powers noted.
Powers addressed three types of cancer screenings in particular, prostate, breast and lung.
September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. One in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives.
“If you are not aware, us men do not do a great job taking very much care of our self without our significant other or female folks encouraging us,” Powers noted.
Men only get screened appropriately about 20 percent of the time for prostate cancer in our region.
Experts recommend that men start getting annual prostate screenings, which are done through a simple blood test, about age 45.
“Early recognition of prostate cancer is very, very important. It is a very treatable if caught early on,” Powers said. “Left untreated it can have some really grave consequences.”
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. About one in eight women will develop breast cancer during their lives.
Powers noted that Baptist Health Corbin could typically get a biopsy scheduled in a short amount of time if something abnormal is discovered through a mammogram.
“What used to take several weeks we are able to get done in a few days,” Powers noted. “A lot of times it can be done on the same day if we can get the insurance and everything aligned appropriately.”
While a few weeks may not sound like a long time, it can seem that way if a mammogram indicates the presence of something abnormal, he added.
Lung cancer screening is something that has vastly improved in recent years.
Lung cancer claims more lives annually than breast and prostate cancer combined.
“Lung cancer is the number one most deadly cancer to get, but there is a new screening tool called a low dose CT lung screen that we offer at Baptist Health Corbin,” Powers said.
One of the biggest problems with lung cancer is that traditional screenings don’t reveal it until the cancer is more advanced and has often spread elsewhere.
The past method of diagnosing it was a regular chest x-ray that wasn’t real effective.
“The CT will pick up things years before you will ever see it on a traditional plain film. The CT is a low dose so the radiation exposure is much less than a traditional CT and is something you can actually have annually,” Powers said.
The CT scan is recommended for regular smokers over the age of 55.
“It is a true lifesaver,” he said.
Medicare began covering the test three years ago, and now most private insurance companies also cover the test.
Powers said that he knows of about 20 people, who have been diagnosed at Baptist Health Corbin with early stage lung cancer over the last three years thanks to the CT scan.
Powers also encouraged everyone to check with their physicians when they go for checkups to see what preventative screenings they should get.
“Take your health in your own hands and really ask and encourage your family members to ask their practitioner when they go to see them if there are any screenings they should have,” Powers said.
“If you are 35 or older, then you probably should go every year and ask those questions. If you can catch these things early, the prognosis is completely different than if you let it go years without being detected.”
Next month’s chamber luncheon is scheduled on Oct. 10 in Corbin.