Dr. Faisal Khan – Franciscan Health

Dr. Faisal Khan, pulmonologist
Franciscan Health

November is lung cancer awareness month. What new developments are out there to bring people hope?

If you look at the evolution of how we are approaching lung cancer, the paradigm has shifted in the last five to 10 years and is still shifting. For many years, lung cancer has been the leading cause of death [among all cancer patients]. The problem has been that up to a few years ago, there was no way to detect lung cancer early in the high-risk populations. But early detection is so important, because by the time the cancer manifests to the point that it’s recognized, it’s usually too late because it’s spread throughout the lungs. But now we have screening options for lung cancer in those high-risk populations. CT scans can now be done on an annual basis, picking up cancer in the early stage when it’s still so small that it’s not exhibiting symptoms. Studies have shown that if you can catch lung cancer in that early stage, it can be curable. It’s now becoming routine to screen those patients. It’s still not perfect. There’s still a lot of room for improvement, but at least there is a standard of screening now. And even better, that screening is ap- proved by all the major medical societies. Even Medicare covers it.

The good news is that many of those medications are being made generic, so people can get them when they need them without a prescription.