Low-radiation CT scan a potential lifesaver for metro woman who kicked longtime smoking habit

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Bettye Givens says she`s done smoking.

“I don`t want another cigarette,” Givens said.

For more than 50 years she smoked, and within the last year she started worrying about how all that smoking was affecting her health.

“It was a big deal, I think before I went into my physical, I was nervous,” she said.

Even though she wasn`t having any symptoms, Bettye qualified for low-radiation CT scans, a diagnostic process that a patient has to commit to for years. Patients have to be between 55 and 77 and have smoked for 30 pack years, meaning if you smoked two packs a day for 15 years, you could still qualify.

This process comes with some guidelines though.

“This is a diagnostic strategy that often gives a lot of false positives,” said Dr. Nirmal Veeramachaneni, a Thoracic Surgeon at the University of Kansas Hospital.

That means it takes a team of knowledgeable medical staff to decipher and deliver the CT scans as well as a patient who`s willing to potentially undergo biopsies that could turn out to be benign.

Bettye`s first biopsy was benign, but her second wasn`t.

“She had a spot in her left lower lobe as well as the right lower lobe,” said Dr. Veeramachaneni or Dr. “V.” “She underwent bilateral surgery staged over a few weeks”

Because of the scans and second biopsy, Bettye`s cancer was immediately removed, and her life was potentially saved because it didn`t have a chance to spread.
But Bettye and Dr. V`s work isn`t over yet, because she will continue to have these low-radiation scans for the rest of her life.

“It is a lifelong process, just because you have one clear scan, doesn`t mean you`re done,” said Dr. V.

Bettye says it`s just one step in many she`s doing to put her health and other people`s health first.

“When I see somebody smoking- not always, if I`m trying to buy cigarettes, I`ll turn around and tell them in the store- don`t buy any cigarettes- I just had a third of my lung removed!” said Bettye.

FOX 4 worked with the University of Kansas Hospital to bring you this story.