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Check Up 13: A low-dose CT lung scan may help catch lung cancer early

Current guidelines call for screening asymptomatic patients who are 50 and older with a heavy smoking history.

INDIANAPOLIS — After hours, you'll find Jeff Todd out back in his Logansport garage working on his passion project, restoring a 1989 Jaguar XJS. He inherited the British Racing Green convertible with a tan interior from his father in 2008. Over the years, he's pulled it out for a Sunday drive and even his son's prom. Jaguars can be finicky, and though the engine has sputtered and a fuel leak or two has popped up over the year, Todd was able to stay on top of repairs, until recently when his health took a turn. 

He was diagnosed with lung cancer in February 2022.

Credit: Jeff Todd

When Todd picked up smoking in college, he never dreamed it would be a habit he'd continue for decades. He smoked half a pack a day, starting and stopping at times, until finally quitting for good in his mid 40s. Now he's 54, and Todd's smoking days are far removed. But his increased risk of lung cancer remained.

The spot on his lung was revealed after his doctor ordered a low-dose CT lung scan.

"It was...a peanut...was the whole size of a peanut," Todd said.

He was referred to Dr. Vru Patel, a pulmonologist at Ascension St. Vincent. He said the scan in the right patient population is key to detecting lung cancer when there is still a chance for surgery and a cure.

"On chest x-rays, we will not be able to find these little spots, they will not show up, they are too small. So that is why they need to get a CT scan done," Patel said. "Unfortunately right now, the sad part about it is only about 6% nationally that get these scans done on all those patients that qualify. So, increasing that number, we are going to be able to save a lot of people."

Current guidelines call for screening asymptomatic patients who are 50 and older with a heavy smoking history.

After diagnosis, Todd had surgery and chemotherapy.

"Jeff's prognosis is great," Patel said "We recommend anyone that can qualify for it to get it because if we can catch it early we can treat them like Jeffrey and get them to surgery and get curative intent."

Now that he's recovered from surgery, Todd is back in the garage tinkering with the engine. His new goal is to fire up that Jaguar in time for his youngest son to drive it for graduation this spring.

If you would like to learn more about the low-dose CT lung scan – click here.

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