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New screening program for lung cancer begins at Mission Hope Cancer Center

Dr. Steven Sonnabend is the Medical Director of Imaging Services at Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria. While smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, Dr. Sonnabend says there are other risk factors as well.

“It can be exposure to chemicals or elements in our community [like] pesticides, inhaled chemicals, or asbestos [which] puts you at risk for developing chest cancers; there can [also] be familial history and genetic dispositions,” Dr. Sonnabend explains.

Lung cancer is the second most common form of cancer amongst men and women. Dr. Sonnabend and his team have now started a screening program for this disease, recommended mostly for those aged 55-77 who smoke frequently.

“There are different kinds of lung cancers, some of them more aggressive than others. Unfortunately in the past – we tend to find lung cancers when they’re more advanced and it becomes much more difficult to treat. The whole idea of a screening program is to find the cancer very very early, when it’s curable,” says Dr. Sonnabend.

During the screening, a patient has a CT scan that takes multiple views of a their body. Dr. Sonnabend says by the time people typically have symptoms, like coughing often, the cancer is at an advanced stage – making their screenings so imperative.

“You’re not just treating it and giving the patient more time – you’re giving them the rest of their life,” Dr. Sonnabend says.

Those who are interested in being a part of the program are asked to call Mission Hope Cancer Center’s Nurse Navigator at 805-346-3402.

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