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Minnesota leads in lung cancer survival rate, behind in critical scans

Updated: November 13, 2019 06:45 PM

The American Lung Association's "State of Lung Cancer" report, which was made public Wednesday, shows Minnesota has one of the best survival rates in the country. But, it also shows only a small number of Minnesotans who are eligible for a lifesaving scan that can catch lung cancer early have actually had the scan done.

"You don't feel it. It doesn't cause pain. If you start coughing up blood or feel pain in your chest it's always a sign that the disease has progressed so much," Dr. Arek Dudek, with Health Partners Oncology, said about the symptoms of lung cancer.

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Dudek said one of the reasons lung cancer is so deadly is because it's often diagnosed too late. He said having a CT scan can save a patient's life.

"Absolutely," he said. "If we detect it early we can cure individuals."

"I do believe that, yes, and I believe it could save others," Renee Marrero, from White Bear Township, said.

Why We Give: Matt Belanger on the American Lung Association

Marrero said the scan saved her life. She's never smoked but pushed her doctors to have the scan done after both her sister and father were diagnosed with lung cancer just months apart.

"I was grateful I caught it early because most people with lung cancer don't get that chance," she said.

Dudek said smokers who've smoked a pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years, or those who have quit in the past 15 years, are at highest risk and should get the scan.

"It's quick and painless. It's very open, not like an MRI," Dudek said.

"People just have to advocate for themselves and understand their own situation and body," Marrero said.

You can take an online quiz to see if you qualify for the scan at savedbythescan.org.

If you'd like to learn more about supporting the American Lung Association, click here.

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Matt Belanger

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