KELOLAND doctors now have a new tool available to try to catch lung cancer earlier in smokers.
One look at Sonja Carlberg's wrist and you can tell that cancer has impacted her life.
"My daughter has breast cancer. She's 46-years-old and going through treatment," Carlberg said.
Carlberg also knows she's at risk for lung cancer after smoking for 30 years. She's already lost loved ones to that disease.
"I watched a friend go through it three times. It's scary. It's not a pleasant thing to have to go through," Carlberg said.
That's why Carlberg is getting a CT scan to look for lung cancer. She knows her likelihood of surviving cancer is much better if doctors catch it early.
"Stage four is less than 15 percent survival at five years," Avera Medical Group Pulmonary Dr. Fady Jamous said.
While the CT scan could help doctors catch lung cancer in patients earlier and therefore improve survival rates, it also might cause some patients to worry more.
"If 100 patients came in through the door for the CT scan, 25 would have an abnormality but only one would end up having cancer," Jamous said.
Despite the possibility of having to undergo more unneeded tests, Carlberg thinks the scan is worth it. Most of all, she regrets the years she smoked and put herself in this situation.
"I sure see a lot of young people who are smoking that I want to go up and shake my finger at and say, 'Something bad is going to happen to you if you continue that,'" Carlberg said.
In an effort to reduce exposure to radiation from the CT scan, hospitals are only offering the screening to certain patients.
To qualify, patients must be in their 50s, 60s, or 70s. They must also be a heavy smoker or have smoked within the past 15 years.
Find out more about the Lung Cancer Screening Program on Avera's website. It is not covered by insurance.