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Lung Cancer Health Center

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Dana Reeve Dies of Lung Cancer

Reeve, 44, Had Never Smoked; Husband Christopher Died in 2004

'Desperate Need' for Early Detection Tests continued...

"We desperately need ways of detecting early lung cancers," Brooks told WebMD in August.

Nearly 60% of people diagnosed with lung cancer die within one year of their diagnosis and nearly 75% die within two years. "This has not improved in 10 years," according to the American Cancer Society.

Chest X-rays haven't been shown to be completely beneficial in screening for early lung cancer, Brooks told WebMD. Brooks was awaiting results of a large study using CAT scans to take pictures of the lungs.

"The problem with that is you're exposing yourself to radiation from CAT scans every year and many times you will be finding things on the CAT scans that are abnormal but are not necessarily cancer, and they require additional follow-up," Brooks told WebMD after Jennings died of lung cancer.

"It remains to be seen whether or not this will be helpful for the entire population before we make a statement about this. But it is being studied, it has been studied, and we're waiting for the results of that study to be completed ... hopefully within the next couple of years," Brooks said.

Lung Cancer Treatments

Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are three tools doctors use to treat lung cancer.

"Lung cancer is treatable if it's caught early," Brooks told WebMD in August. "The best treatment for lung cancer is surgery. If it is not caught early, as it is, unfortunately, in two-thirds of patients, we have made some progress in terms of the use of chemotherapy ... and radiation."

"There are some exciting new molecular-targeted drugs that are helpful, and we're understanding the molecular biology of lung cancer much better today in helping to design more rational treatments," Brooks said. "But unfortunately, the vast majority of people with lung cancer today will die from their disease."

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