MedWatch- Screening for Lung Cancer saves lives from Medwatch 7 KSWO on Vimeo.

LAWTON, OK (KSWO)- Lung Cancer is the second most common form of cancer among men and women, according to the American Cancer Society. It’s the leading cause of cancer deaths– killing more people than colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.

Doctors say not all lung cancers can be prevented. But there are things you can do that might lower your risk and one of those is getting screened. That’s exactly what saved Richard Gamble’s life.

“It was a typical life, I enjoyed it. I smoked like a freight train. I never thought about cancer.” Richard Gamble, 64, had heard of other people having cancer, but when Doctor’s found a spot in his lung. “My whole world changed right quick. I was stopped straight in my tracks, because ‘Me? Cancer?’ Can’t be.”

No signs and no symptoms, just a suggested screening from his physician is what caught it.

“I didn’t know I had it. But thanks to him, he found it early,” said Gamble.

“The longer the cancer is in the body, the greater the chance of metastatic spread of the malignant cells.” Dr. Richard Brittingham of Comanche County Memorial Hospital says he’s been able to catch 10 to 12 stage one lung cancers, and every single one of those patients are doing fine, all thanks to getting screened.

“If you can catch the cancer early, and that’s the whole point of lung cancer screening through low dose CT, if you can catch it early enough you can eradicate the cancer and there is a very low probability of subsequent metastatic disease.” Dr. Brittingham says the low dose CT scan is a very easy procedure that takes 5 minutes. Five minutes, that could save your life, like it did Mr. Gamble’s.

“A lot of times, they’re not able to get it in the advanced stage they say. I feel I was blessed to have him because he found it so early,” said Gamble.

“Some people have the genetic propensity to develop malignancies. And that, of course, is a possibility. But overwhelmingly the significant risk factor for lung cancer is exposure to smoke,” explained Brittingham.

For Mr. Gamble, the decision to throw away the cigarettes wasn’t a hard one.

“I still got the scar, and it’s a pretty long scar. And the tubes where they put in me. Yes, it was easy to stop smoking. I didn’t even think about it,” explained Gamble.

Dr. Brittingham says the resources are readily available, and taking care of your health, shouldn’t be an option

“Get with your doctor, if you’re a smoker, and you’ve quit smoking within the last 15 years, or even if you’re still smoking, and you have a 30 pack a year history of smoking, you are at risk. Get with your doctor, and get yourself screened,” said Brittingham.

“When I’m here, he’s in charge. What he says goes. That’s why I owe him my life,” Gamble said.

Comanche County Memorial Hospital is currently offering free or low-cost CT scans for lung cancer. To find out if you qualify, you can call 580-536-2121, or talk with your doctor about your screening options.

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