Freeman News

44th Annual Great American Smokeout Urges Smokers to Quit

November 21, 2019

Low Dose CT Scans Offer Early Detection

Joplin, MO – November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and more than 34 million Americans still smoke cigarettes. The American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout event November 21 can be day one for smokers to make a plan to quit smoking.

Approximately 230,000 new cases of lung cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States and of these approximately 140,000 patients die each year of lung cancer. This makes lung cancer the #1 cause of cancer deaths both in males and females. In 90% of lung cancer patients, smoking is believed to be the biggest risk factor.

“I would tell teenagers, ‘Don’t start’,” said Dr. Anisa Hassan with the Freeman Health System Cornell – Beshore Cancer Institute. “Smoking causes many cancers and also chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We take fourteen breaths a minute. Imagine each one being a struggle.”

Dr. Hassan said for many years there wasn’t a good test to detect lung cancer early. But, one large trial recently showed that getting yearly low dose chest CT in smokers can decrease risk of mortality from lung cancer by 20%. We are finding early stage lung cancers which can be cured with surgery or radiation therapy,” Dr. Hassan said.

Like a mammogram, CT scans should be done as an annual test for those who smoke,” Dr. Hassan said. “I have my patients get the low dose CT scans and other doctors should also.” Dr. Hassan also shared that the CT scans are typically covered by most insurances.

Vaping is also damaging to the lungs. Dr. Hassan said there are multiple toxins in vaping products – and like cigarettes – second-hand smoke from vaping is not healthy to breathe. Dr. Hassan called attention to the deaths linked to vaping and urged people to give up all types of smoking. She said there are products that can help smokers and vapers quit, such as Chantix, nicotine patches and nicotine gums.

“The lungs can heal and that begins as soon as you stop smoking,” said Dr. Hassan. “The cilia in the lung begin working again and lung function improves as well as circulation. You will also have less coughing and shortness of breath.

Anisa Hassan, MD holds Board certifications in Internal Medicine, Hematology, Medical Oncology, and Hospice & Palliative Medicine.

The American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout is an annual event that encourages smokes to make a plan to quit smoking ( icon). The 44th annual event is today.                                      

About Freeman Health System

Locally owned, not-for-profit and nationally recognized, Freeman Health System includes Freeman Hospital West, Freeman Hospital East, Freeman Neosho Hospital and Ozark Center – the area’s largest provider of behavioral health services – as well as two urgent care clinics, dozens of physician clinics and a variety of specialty services. In 2019, Freeman earned dozens of individual awards for medical excellence and patient safety from CareChex®, a quality rating system that helps consumers evaluate healthcare providers. U.S. News & World Report named Freeman Health System the Best Hospital in Southwest Missouri for 2019. With more than 300 physicians on staff representing more than 70 specialties, Freeman provides cancer care, heart care, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopaedics, children’s services and women’s services. Additionally, Freeman is the only Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in a 70-mile radius. For more information, visit