TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida is 44th in the nation for lack of treatment for lung cancer, a startling statistic according to the American Lung Association.
Experts say not nearly enough people are getting screened.
“It just always stuck in my mind that I had an asbestos exposure,” said Maryann Stein. Stein owns a farm and spent years working around chemicals. She also was exposed to asbestos during renovation work.
The exposure has always been in the back of Stein’s mind, and years later, she decided to listen to that nagging voice in her head and ask her doctor for a CT scan.
“On the CT scan it showed what they call a ground glass effect,” said Stein.
Two years later, another scan showed worse news.
“It was denser and a little bit larger,” said Stein.
Doctors diagnosed Stein with small cell carcinoma, a form of lung cancer.
“He removed a piece of my upper right lung. He didn’t have to remove the whole lobe,” said Stein.
Since doctors caught it so early, Stein did not have to go through radiation or chemotherapy.
But this isn’t the case for many Floridians.
Nationally, only about six percent of people eligible to get a screening for lung cancer are actually getting one.
“In Florida, it’s three percent, so it’s half of what it is nationally. Even though that’s a terrible number, Florida’s down toward the floor,” said Dr. Larry Robinson, a thoracic surgeon with Moffitt Cancer Center.
According to the American Lung Association, the 2022 “State of Lung Cancer” report reveals that Florida ranks 44th in the nation for lung cancer cases receiving no treatment. The report highlights a critical lack of screening.
“We’re gonna make every effort to publicize this, because it’s lack of knowledge,” said Dr. Robinson.
Stein is living proof that screenings save lives, and she hopes her story can save others.
“I actually just wanted to know that everything was okay. I didn’t really expect a lung cancer diagnosis, but was very very fortunate that I got it as early as I did,” she said.
Currently, 14.2 million Americans meet the US Preventive Services Task Force guidelines for screening, according to the American Lung Association.
Under these guidelines, a person is eligible for lung cancer screening if they are between 50-80 years of age, have a 20 pack-year history of smoking (1 pack/day for 20 years, 2 packs/day for 10 years) and are a current smoker, or have quit within the last 15 years.
Find out if you are eligible for lung cancer screening at SavedByTheScan.org.