Lung cancer kills more Americans than breast, colon and prostate cancers — combined. It is the leading cause of cancer death nationally and in Colorado. Many people don’t realize that nearly 80 percent of those diagnosed with lung cancer are people who have never smoked or former smokers who quit decades ago.
Screening those at high risk with low-dose CT scans can save tens of thousands of lives a year. The Lung Center’s full time pulmonologist Dr. Akrum Al-Zubaidi, known as Dr. Aki, started early intervention in 2012, offering two programs for the early detection of lung cancer. In addition to low dose CT scans, Valley View offers early detection through technology that combines detection, diagnosis and staging in one procedure. The Lung Center at Valley View is one of only 14 hospitals in the country to offer this advanced technology.
The procedure brings together two technologies that utilize Electromagnetic Navigation Bronchoscopy — a GPS-like technology to locate, test and detect a lesion in the lung, while Confocal Endomicroscopy enables the pulmonologist to see individual cells in the farthest reaches of the lung. For patients, this translates to a more minimally invasive approach to quickly detect lung cancer in earlier stages.
Dr. Aki’s goal is to have the lowest mortality rates in the nation here in Glenwood Springs and the surrounding counties of Garfield, Eagle, Mesa and Pitkin. Currently there are 150-200 new lung cancer diagnoses per year in our valley. In 2012, 27 percent of the cases were seen in the early stages, and in 2013 that number rose to 55 percent of cases in stage one or stage two.
“Imagine if we can catch these patients when they are in stage one or two, then we can turn our mortality rates around, and 85 to 90 percent of those patients will still be alive,” said Dr. Aki. “We are now equipped with the new technology and the new diagnostic tools to make this happen. And I am personally committed to do everything I can to fight lung cancer here in the Roaring Fork Valley.”
For more information about how the Lung Center at Valley View Hospital’s new program may benefit you or a loved one, call 970-834-7707.