Claudean and the benefits of early detection

Archive, August, Month

Catching her lung cancer early allowed a patient to avoid the more intense cancer treatments.

“In so many ways, I’m so thankful.”

Two years after Claudean’s primary care physician, McLaren Macomb’s Dr. Cynthia Trosin, first recommended the former smoker get a lung cancer screening, a follow up screening came back positive.

Her initial screening resulted in her physicians noticing a suspicious spot on her lung. Still, it wasn’t big enough for them to intervene upon, yet it something to monitor closely moving forward.

“A small, little something to keep an eye on,” as Claudean described it.

Now, though, determining the “spot” — a carcinoma — had grown, the time to address and treat it had arrived.

But what Claudean would ultimately realize was that she and her care team were in an extremely advantageous position.

Low-dose CT lung cancer screening

Having been a patient of Dr. Trosin’s for many years, Claudean had immense trust in her.

So when she recommended Claudean, 74 and an admitted “long-time” smoker, get a lung cancer screening, she readily followed her instruction. (Dr. Trosin knew her patient so well that she knew to call the hospital to schedule the appointment, knowing Claudean has a tendency to procrastinate.)

A low-dose CT lung cancer screening is the only way to detect lung cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages.

Claudean fit the criteria for the screening: she was over age 55, had a significant smoking history and was in good overall health.

She never felt any symptoms of the lung cancer that was growing inside her.

Scope and extent

“The thought of surgery, that really scared me,” Claudean said. “And chemo and radiation, that’s the first thing you think about when you’re told you’ll have to go to the cancer center.”

Before treatments would begin — or even be discussed — she had to have a couple of tests to precisely locate the cancer and gauge its severity.

A bronchoscopy by McLaren Macomb pulmonologist Dr. Victor Gordon to biopsy the growth and a PET scan to determine if, and to what extent, the cancer had spread to other areas of her body.

“There was an element of being scared,” she said. “But everyone has been really terrific and put me at ease. I’m a very detailed person, so I like to know what a test is like. They were great at being thorough.”

After reviewing the results of her tests, Claudean received the best news she could hope for.

They had caught the cancer very early.

“Saved from trauma”

Reviewing her options with Dr. Gordon, Claudean opted for radiation therapy over surgery.

Referred to the Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Macomb and radiation oncologist Dr. Matthew Johnson, Claudean’s cancer was cleared in five 10- to 15-minute radiation therapy sessions.

“He explained it so well that I had no anxiety about the treatments,” she said. “And it was exactly how he said it would be. I had no discomfort, no pain, and it was very quick.”

Dr. Johnson explains, “Catching her cancer at such an early stage — the earliest stage — allowed for a much less intensive treatment plan. This puts the patient and us as her care team in such a favorable position, and it gave us the greatest chance to have this very good and encouraging outcome.”

For Claudean, early detection with the low-dose CT lung cancer screening also meant getting to avoid the varying and potentially debilitating side effects often associated with intensified treatments for advanced cancers.

“I was saved from trauma memories,” she said. “This is not something you want to do, but it could have been so much worse.”

Completing her treatments in mid-February 2021, Claudean had a follow-up CT scan in mid-April, which came back clean and clear of any cancer: “There was nothing to even monitor,” she said.

Another scan in August showed the same, yet Claudean chooses to continue with her scans just to be safe — to add to her peace of mind.

But in all regards, Claudean is cancer-free thanks to early detection and the combined efforts of Dr. Trosin, Dr. Gordon and Dr. Johnson.

“I couldn’t have had better doctors.”