BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s the number one cancer killer in America, and doctors say smokers are not being screened for lung cancer often enough.
After 50 years of smoking, not long after her last day of work, doctors found a spot on Carol Roach’s left lung.
This isn’t how she imagined spending retirement.
“Petrified. Petrified. I wanted to just, sometimes I just wanted to run away,” she said. “It’s like, let’s just go take a vacation, because I had just retired. It hadn’t been a month.”
She was diagnosed with lung cancer, the most common cancer in the world, and the number one cancer killer in the U.S.
Smokers and former smokers are at much higher risk.
“Every year in the United States, over 200,000 people will develop lung cancer, and of those, 150,000 per year die of lung cancer,” said Dr. Galen Ohnmacht, with UM Baltimore Washington Medical Center.
But Dr. Ohnmacht says the disease doesn’t always require chemotherapy or radiation.
“Early stage lung cancer can be treated with surgery, and many surgeons, like myself, practice minimally invasive surgery,” he said.
Surgery saved Carol Roach’s life one year ago.
“It was a year yesterday! One year!,” she said.
The now-ex-smoker is living life with new hope and a message for those who can’t kick the habit.
“Most people that smoke heavy, they don’t want to get a lung screening or a lung x-ray. They’re afraid,” she said. “So, to me, it is a traumatic experience to go through, but you’re not alone.”
Doctors say patients who get regular lung cancer screenings have a 25 percent decrease in mortality.