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Doctors Urge Screening for Lung Cancer

(CNN) — Early detection for diseases such as lung cancer can save lives, but exactly who needs to be screened is something doctors are trying to figure out.

Lung cancer survivor Donna Craig, probably would not be alive today if she hadn’t been screened for lung cancer. Craig was a smoker for most of her adult life, then saw an ad in the local newspaper that caught her attention.

“It said, ‘If you’ve smoked a long time, we’re looking for you.’ So I thought it wouldn’t hurt. So I signed up and had the first scan: Negative,” Craig said.

She went back the next year.

“Second scan: Negative,” Craig said.

And a year later.

“Third scan: Large tumor. I still had no symptoms of any kind. If it hadn’t been for that test, i wouldn’t be here,” Craig said.

Craig was screened as part of a national study where she got a spiral CT scan. Knowing who to screen is vital because there’s a high false positive rate. But this study and others have shown if you focus on current or former heavy smokers like Donna, more of the suspicious findings really are cancer.

While lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer of men and women, diagnosing early can change that.

“If you catch it late, the chances of surviving the disease are poor,” said Dr. Reggie Munden, MD, Anderson Cancer Center.

Today Craig is more than seven years cancer free.

“It feels wonderful. I feel very, very lucky and very grateful,” Craig said.

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