As a former smoker, Bob McDonald knew that he might be at risk for lung cancer. But even after he was screened, he was still surprised by the results. Find out how early detection changed his life.
Bob McDonald started smoking as a college student in the 1960s. "Everyone smoked ... You could smoke almost anywhere, and people did," he says. He smoked a pack and a half a day for over 40 years but finally quit in 2003 with the help of family and his primary care physician.
Yet more than a decade later, Bob knew that he might still be at risk for lung cancer. "Many, many people of my generation … don’t want to believe it’s going happen to them. And I was one of those," he says.
I feel more relaxed because I know that it was caught early...It’s not hanging over me like a cloud. And because of it, I intend to make the most of my life.
Lung Screening Patient
Screening Leads to Early Detection for Lung Cancer
Because he was a former smoker and met the other criteria for lung screening, his doctor recommended that he have a low-dose CT scan. He doubted the test would be positive but recalls thinking, "Let’s do it. It may just reaffirm then that I'm OK." But he was wrong.
After reviewing the test results with his Mass General care team, Bob had minimally invasive surgery to remove a cancerous nodule and has been cancer-free for almost two years."If I had waited another year, I’m sure that the results of the surgery would have been very different," he adds.
He is now back to watercolor painting, traveling and enjoying his retirement. "I feel more relaxed because I know that it was caught early...It’s not hanging over me like a cloud. And because of it, I intend to make the most of my life."
Bob's Story: A Video
Hear Bob McDonald talk about lung screening changed his life.
Lung Screening Program
Mass General Imaging screens high-risk patients for lung cancer at multiple locations using low-dose CT. Lung screening has the potential to detect lung cancer at earlier stages when it has the best chance of being cured.