Finding Happiness Despite Stage IV Lung Cancer

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 29, 2016


Joann (center) with her daughters, Mei and Lia.

Today’s post is written by Joann Totten, a patient at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center.

As a non-smoker, I never imagined I would be diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, let alone at age 50. But that’s what happened on Aug. 5, 2015, just six weeks after I started experiencing a non-productive cough. The doctors felt certain it was bronchitis, but as a radiation therapist for more than 20 years, I advocated for myself and insisted on a chest x-ray, which came back a bit abnormal. After additional testing for tuberculosis and pneumonia, I began experiencing shortness of breath and had another chest x-ray and CT scan. When I saw the scan, which was hard to believe was mine; I knew immediately I had cancer. A few days later, a biopsy confirmed my diagnosis: non-small cell lung cancer, stage IV.

Although it’s been more than a year, it’s still so hard to believe I have lung cancer. I never smoked, I exercise, and I eat very healthy; I thought I took pretty good care of myself. But cancer doesn’t discriminate; all you need are lungs to be diagnosed with this disease. Read More »

Great American Smokeout – Benefits of Going “Cold Turkey”

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 21, 2013

Your health is immediately improved when you quit smoking and these improvements continue for many years.

Today’s post is from Brigham and Women’s Hospital thoracic (chest) radiologist Francine Jacobson, MD, MPH, who specializes in lung cancer prevention and screening. Dr. Jacobson serves as a lung health resource for both her patients and their physicians.

Today marks the 36th annual Great American Smokeout, held annually in the US on the third Thursday in November. Public support for the willpower and the example set by not smoking, even for just one day, is a powerful accomplishment with which to embark on the holiday season – opened by the counting of blessings and overeating on Thanksgiving and closed by resolutions for self-improvement in the New Year.

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Risk Versus Benefit: Lung Cancer Screening

Posted by Blog Administrator April 30, 2012

lung cancer screening xray

A new CT screening test captures many views of the lungs, providing more detail than traditional x-ray lung cancer screening.

Any type of medical intervention – surgery, medications, even x-rays – involves some degree of risk. So the doctor or caregiver must always assess: Does the risk outweigh the benefit?

Lung cancer screening is a case in point. A new CT screening test captures many views of the lungs, providing more detail than traditional x-ray screening. This makes identification of early-stage lung cancer nodules more likely – and the earlier lung cancer is diagnosed, the greater the chance of survival.

But here’s the catch: CT scans emit small amounts of radiation, and accumulated radiation exposure increases risk for cancer. This puts Dr. Francine Jacobson and other radiologists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in an awkward situation. “I have to balance the risk for patients,” notes Dr. Jacobson, “between their exposure to ionizing radiation versus the benefits of the CT scan.”

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