Calling it Quits
Lexington Medical Center Offers Help for Smokers
By Jennifer Wilson
Angel Pownall started smoking cigarettes when she was 18 years old because, like many people, her friends smoked.
Her habit grew to a pack a day. She quit during pregnancies, but started again after having her two children. Now in her 30s, the Lexington wife and mom knew she needed to quit for good.
“I didn’t want my kids to see me smoke, because I worried they might start smoking,” she said. “And I didn’t want to get lung cancer, have my life cut short and be taken away from them.”
Last year, she learned about a smoking-cessation class offered at Lexington Medical Center’s community medical center in Lexington and signed up.
The class meets once a week for two hours and lasts eight weeks. It is open to anyone who wants to quit smoking and, because of a generous grant from the Lexington Medical Center Foundation, there is no cost to participate. Participants also have an above average success rate.
A Lexington Medical Center – Lexington cardiac rehabilitation nurse began the program in 2013.
“It was refreshing to talk to people who knew what it was like to be a smoker and understood how hard it was to quit,” Angel said. “It was very supportive.”
The smoking-cessation program is just one way Lexington Medical Center is helping smokers make healthier choices. The hospital also offers lung cancer screenings with a low-dose CT scan to help detect lung cancer in its early stages.
“In South Carolina, lung cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer, behind prostate and breast cancer,” said Dr. Myron Barwick, a Lexington Medical Center surgeon and past chair of the hospital’s cancer committee. “When you’re diagnosed at an early stage, lung cancer is very treatable. But when it’s advanced, treatments are not as effective.”
Qualified lung cancer screening patients should be between the ages of 55-74 and have a 30 pack-year smoking history. If the patient is a former smoker, he or she must have quit within the past 15 years. Or, patients should be age 50 or older and have a 20 pack-year smoking history with one additional risk factor. Additional risk factors include radon exposure, occupational exposure, personal cancer history, family history of lung cancer, and disease history. The screening costs $149, which is about the cost of three cartons of cigarettes. There is no age requirement to take the smoking cessation class.
A pack-year is calculated by multiplying the number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day by the number of years the person has smoked. For example, 1 pack-year is equal to smoking one pack per day for 1 year or two packs per day for a half year.
Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. because only a small number of patients with lung cancer are diagnosed with early stage disease. A national study showed a decrease in mortality by 20 percent when lung cancer was diagnosed early.
As for Angel, she has a success story. She has not smoked a cigarette since completing the Lexington Medical Center smoking-cessation program last November. And she feels great.
“I don’t feel as tired or worn down. My skin looks better. My hair and clothes don’t smell like cigarettes anymore. I saw a chance to turn things around – and I’m so glad that I did.”
If you or someone you know wants to quit smoking and participate in Lexington Medical Center’s smoking-cessation program, please call 803.358.6180.
For information about lung cancer screenings, please call 803.936.8050.