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Brooke Leibfreid, Cancer Center Nurse Navigator

Early screening for lung cancer can drastically improve your chances of survival, according to Brooke Leibfreid, Cancer Center Nurse Navigator at St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne. She says too often, lung cancer is diagnosed after symptoms occur, which in many cases indicates the disease has spread to other parts of the body. At that point, the survival rate is low, just 20 percent. But with early screening, before you have symptoms, she says the disease can be found before it has spread, which leads to many more treatment options that give patients a shot at a long-term cure and as a result a patient’s survival rate skyrockets to 88 percent.

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Low dose CT scans are now offered as a preventive screening benefit for current or former smokers, people who smoked one pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years or 2 packs a day for 15 years. Patients must be between 55 and 77 years of age with no symptoms of lung cancer. She says so far, screenings have identified issues in just a quarter of the patients, with only a tiny percentage diagnosed with cancer.

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Patients with early-stage lung cancer can be treated more effectively than those who have advanced disease. St. Mary offers the latest in treatment options for lung cancer, including minimally invasive or robotic surgery that requires a hospital stay of four to five days or four to five doses of targeted radiation therapy.

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