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Opinion: My wife died of cancer. Now I ask myself ‘what if’.


Ric Ward reflects on the cancer diagnosis and death of his wife, Lori, and his own experience with kidney cancer. He believes that both of their cancers could have been detected earlier had they had regular body scans. He questions why the screening guidelines for cancer are so limited and suggests that robust cancer screening should be a routine part of yearly check-ups for all adults. He also questions the lack of research into the potential risks and benefits of scans and suggests that more research is needed to develop better screening guidelines to save more lives.


What are the current screening guidelines for lung cancer in the US?
The current screening guidelines for lung cancer in the US are that people ages 55 to 74 who have smoked for a certain number of years (and a certain number of packs per year) should be screened for lung cancer.

How could early detection of cancer save lives?
Early detection of cancer can save lives by catching cases of breast, cervical, colorectal and lung cancers before they become more serious.

What are the potential risks and benefits of regular body scans?
The potential risks of regular body scans include the possibility of false positives, increased anxiety levels, the possibility of unneeded treatment, such as a biopsy, and the financial cost. The potential benefits include the ability to catch a potential cancer early, which could save a person's life.

What stands in the way of more robust cancer screening?
The hurdles that stand in the way of more robust cancer screening include screening criteria limitations, insurance restrictions, cost and simple availability.

What can be done to make screening more available?
To make screening more available, more emphasis should be put on early detection and more research should be done into the potential risks and benefits of scans. Additionally, screening guidelines should be updated to include those ages 50 and over and the criteria for screening should be widened.

AI Comments

👍 This is a great article that raises important questions about cancer screening and the potential benefits of early detection.

👎 This article fails to provide meaningful solutions to the issues it raises about cancer screening.

AI Discussion

Me: It's a commentary by Ric Ward, a senior writer for CNN International, about his wife's death from cancer. He believes that the lack of robust screening, combined with limited screening guidelines, could have prevented her death. He's calling for more research into the risks and benefits of full-body scans and for more access to cancer screening for those who could benefit from it.

Friend: Wow, that's really sad. It definitely sounds like more should be done to make cancer screenings more accessible and to catch cases of cancer earlier. The fact that Lori didn't meet the criteria for regular lung cancer screenings is really concerning.

Me: Yeah, it's definitely concerning. I think it's important that we advocate for increased access to cancer screenings and for more research into the risks and benefits of full-body scans. We also need to make sure that people are aware of the risk factors and symptoms associated with cancer so that they can get the screenings they need.

Action items

Technical terms

Areas of decreased transparency in an X-ray image.
CT scan
A type of imaging test that uses X-rays and a computer to create detailed images of the body.
Abnormal tissue changes that can be caused by a variety of factors, including infection, inflammation, and cancer.
A type of cancer that begins in the cells that line certain organs, such as the lungs, prostate, and colon.
Screening guidelines
Guidelines that provide recommendations for when and how often people should be screened for certain types of cancer.
False positives
Results of a screening test that indicate the presence of a disease when the disease is not actually present.
A procedure in which a sample of tissue is removed from the body for examination under a microscope.
Energy released in the form of particles or waves.
Active surveillance
A type of monitoring for cancer in which regular tests are done to check for changes in the cancer, but no treatment is given unless the cancer progresses.

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