Dr. Karen Arscott, a native of Dunmore and 1977 graduate of Dunmore High School, is at the forefront of efforts to raise awareness and offer support to people touched by lung cancer—and she wants to remind everyone that November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month.
She serves as chair of the Northeast/Central Interprofessional Education, a group of health care educators from 11 different institutions of higher education in the Northeast and North Central Pennsylvania region. This group is partnered with the NEPA Area Health Education Center (AHEC) to promote interprofessional education and collaboration in our region.
Arscott is promoting the Shine the Light Vigil to be held on Friday, Nov. 4, at 5:30 p.m. at the North Washington Avenue side of the Scranton Courthouse Square lawn. This follows the placing of 1,600 flags at the Courthouse lawn last Sunday, which each flag representing 100 Americans who will die of lung cancer this year, a total of 160,000.
An Associate Professor of Medicine at The Commonwealth Medical College, she has first hand experience with the terrible disease.
“As a healthy physician, I was very surprised 10 years ago when I was diagnosed with lung cancer, especially since I have no known risk factors,” Dr. Arscott explains. “My surprise continued as I developed a serious recurrence 16 months later in my mediastinum (middle of my chest) which had me now at a stage III disease.
“After my recovery, I decided that it would be my personal mission to spread the word about this terrible disease that takes 160,000 American lives each year– more than colon, breast, and prostate combined.”
She mentions that a very interesting point is that the fastest growing demographic is young never-smoked women – and we do not know why. Never smokers make up 20 percent of those diagnosed with lung cancer, Non-smokers (those who have quit) make up 60 percent.
Due to the stigma attached to lung cancer it is the lowest funded killer cancer – despite its lethality. The mortality has not changed in 40 years.
“My team and I are all about raising awareness about the facts of lung cancer and also about screening now covered by most insurances, Arscott points out. “Screening changed breast and colon cancer mortality – it can do the same for lung if we can get the word out.”
In order to do so, in addition to Friday’s event, Karen was involved with events last July, raising just over $5,000 for the Lung Cancer Alliance, for which Dr. Ascott serves on the Medical and Professional Advisory Board.