WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- In early 2015, Marco Carcich, a 73-year old Brewster resident and heavy smoker, was leafing through his weekly Pennysaver when something caught his eye that would change his life forever.
“I was looking for tag sales when I saw an ad for a clinical trial at White Plains Hospital," he said. "I remember thinking I had nothing to lose. Little did I realize that a simple lung cancer screening would save my life.”
Carcich, like more than 400 other patients, took part in a clinical trial for high-risk populations at White Plains Hospital to identify lung cancer in its earliest stages, when it’s most treatable. He was considered a good candidate for screening due to his significant smoking history, and the fact that he worked as a contractor and OSHA trainer in the 1960s and 1970s when he was exposed to asbestos in building materials. “My cancer was caused by asbestos,” said Carcich. After a brief interview and questionnaire, cancer was found in his left lung.
He was lucky. The cancer was found early and he received treatment. But most lung patients are not as fortunate. “Over 75 percent of people with lung cancer are diagnosed when it is advanced, and then they aren’t eligible for curative surgery,” said Dr. Cynthia Chin, a thoracic surgeon at White Plains Hospital. “We launched the clinical trial because it helps us find cancer at its earliest stage, when surgery is still an option and can provide a cure.”
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, killing approximately 158,000 people each year. That’s more than breast, colon, and prostate cancers combined. As November marks the kick-off of the “Great American Smokeout” and Lung Cancer Awareness Month, it’s a good time for people who are at high risk to take action and get screened.
White Plains Hospital’s lung cancer screening is open to individuals who are at least 50 years of age, have smoked for 20 pack years, and are currently smoking or have stopped smoking within the last 20 years. The clinical trial at White Plains Hospital offers low-dose scans, plus smoking cessation counseling. Follow-up testing is immediately scheduled if findings are suspicious. Those who show no signs of the disease are encouraged to do a follow-up scan one year later.
For Carcich, he says that he feels great. “The surgery hasn’t impacted my quality of life at all. I’m just so grateful to Dr. Chin and the whole team. I can’t say enough about their professionalism and concern for me.” Since his surgery, his subsequent lung scans have been clear and Mr. Carcich is cancer free.
Chin points out that some people don’t want to be screened for fear they will be diagnosed with cancer. However, that head in the sand approach can be a tragic mistake. “For lung cancer especially, early screening gives us the power to help save your life,” she notes.
For more information about early lung cancer screening, or to make an appointment, click here.