Margaret Davis used to start out every day with a Pepsi and a cigarette.
She says that from the time she was 16, she would smoke a pack to a pack and a half of cigarettes a day.
However, after 13 years of smoking, she decided to quit because of the social stigma associated with cigarette smoke ... and the smell.
"I never liked the smell, and I would always brush my teeth before leaving the house because I didnít want people to smell smoke on me,Ē she says.
Thirty-three years later, in 2010, after breathing issues led to a CT scan, Davis had a tumor (stage IA cancer) surgically removed from her lung by the UC Cancer Instituteís Sandra Starnes, MD, at UC Medical Center. Starnes is a UC Health thoracic surgeon.
"I was very fortunate to have had it found and removed at that stage,Ē Davis says. "It would have gotten much worse before symptoms appeared, and they might not have been able to do anything to help.Ē
Since then, Davis has undergone close surveillance by Starnes and Kevin Redmond, MD, UC Health radiation oncologist and a member of the UC Cancer Institute, who are both part of the Comprehensive Lung Cancer Centerís Lung Cancer Screening Program.
Two additional nodules were found, and she underwent the latest targeted radiation treatment for one this past December.
"The low radiation dose chest computed tomography, or CT, scans for screening, identify unrecognized disease in people who have no signs or symptoms of lung cancer in an attempt to intervene earlier when disease is generally more treatable,Ē Starnes says.
Recently, the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force issued its guidelines on lung cancer screening, recommending annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose CT in adults ages 55 to 80 who are at high risk for lung cancer because they have smoked a pack or more per day of cigarettes for at least 30 years and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.
The UC Comprehensive Lung Cancer Centerís screening program has been using low-dose CT scans for this purpose for over a year.
Davis is happy that she was able to find the best, most effective treatment close to home.
"Dr. Starnes and the rest of the team are just so great,Ē she says. "You can tell they really care, and they bend over backward to get you what you need.
"Itís important for anyone who has smoked in the past to get screened. I have an identical twin sister who Iíve been urging to sign up. (*Her sister was recently screened.) You canít be too careful. Itís just fantastic that we have this dedicated team right here in Cincinnati.Ē
Now, Davis says she starts each day out a little different.
"I have a cup of decaf instead,Ē she laughs.