CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — Conway Medical Center will offer free lung cancer screenings at a special Breathe Better event next month.

The Nov. 3 event to promote the importance of early detection of the disease will be in conjunction with national Lung Cancer Awareness Month in November.

According to CMC officials, South Carolina’s lung cancer survival rate is 33rd out of 46 U.S. states for which data is available. Nationwide, officials said the number of screenings is down.

“Think of this like getting your annual mammography, early detention,” said Barbara Elkins, the cancer center assistant director at Conway Medical Center.  

Elkins said lung cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the United States. The bottom line, she said, is that early detection saves lives.

There are two key risk factors for lung cancer — smoking and age — and Kerri Wallace, a lung health navigator at Conway Medical Center, said this region of South Carolina has a high demographic of patients who smoke.

“Lung cancer is usually diagnosed at a Stage 4 because it’s silent and it doesn’t show symptoms until the cancer has spread,” Wallace said.

That means the sooner someone is screened, the sooner they can be treated if cancer is detected. With that in mind, Conway Medical Center now offers a low-dose CT scan to help with early detection.

“What we want is for this to become a preventative tool that we are using on an annual basis,” Wallace said.

Now that the hospital has the ability to do the scans, officials want to get the word out. That’s where events like the Nov. 3 Breathe Better event come into play.

“If you happen to be uninsured, if you are underinsured, if you are experiencing financial hardship, due to the good graces and the wonderful work of our CMC Foundation, it will be covered at no cost to you,” Elkins said. 

There are certain criteria, though. You must be between 50 and 77 years old, have a history of smoking tobacco for at least 20 years, and be a current smoker or one who has quit within the last 15 years.

“CMC is all about our community, family, and any way we can help our family,” Elkins said. “We want to protect our family. We want to help our family be as healthy as possible and live the best life they can live.”

The Breathe Better event will take place from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Nov. 3 in the auditorium of Conway Medical Center’s administrative services building.

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Adriana Cotero is News13’s weekend evening anchor and a morning reporter. She joined the team in July 2023 after working in the island of Guam. Adriana is from Saline, Michigan, and graduated from Central Michigan University. Follow Adriana on Facebook, X, formerly Twitter, and Instagram and read more of her work here