With the seventh highest smoking rate per state in the country, Alabama is a high-risk place for developing lung cancer. Of course nobody wants to think it will happen to us or someone we love, but let’s get real. Andrea Tidwell, Brookwood Baptist Health System‘s Lung Cancer Navigator, is passionate about early detection, and wants you to know that “anybody with lungs can get lung cancer.” Keep reading to learn what else this local expert wants you to know.
Meet Andrea Tidwell, Lung Cancer Navigator
Andrea Tidwell’s the Lung Cancer Nurse Navigator at three Birmingham area hospitals and one diagnostic center in Hoover:
- Princeton Baptist
- Walker Baptist
- Citizens Baptist
Tidwell’s the one doctors reach out to when they want a patient to come in for screening. She calls the patient, talks with them and gets them scheduled for a low dose CT lung cancer screening.
From there, she directs the patient through the screening and any medical next steps.
How Tidwell became a Lung Cancer Navigator
Having a baby prompted Tidwell to seek out a day-shift position, and when she discovered lung cancer navigation, she found more than a position—she found a passion.
“Most people don’t even know that you can get a screening for lung cancer. Everybody knows you can get other kinds of screening: a colonoscopy for colon cancer, a mammogram for breast cancer, do blood work for prostate cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the top killer in cancer patients. If you find lung cancer early on a screening, the chances of survival in five years are much improved, versus finding a late stage cancer.
The CT scans are much more detailed images than a chest X-ray from your primary care provider, which means we can find smaller things there. This motivates me to come to work every day.”Andrea Tidwell, lung cancer navigator
She stresses that the earlier you can catch lung cancer, the better the patient outcome will be overall.
3 things Tidwell wants you to know
First: Tidwell wants you to know about lung cancer screening.
Second: don’t be afraid to get screened because of what they might find.
“If we find something, we’re not just going to leave you out there hanging—we’re going to get you the care you need. There are resources and treatment options, especially in the earlier stages.”
Third: anybody with lungs can get lung cancer, but screening makes a big difference:
“If you or someone you love needs a lung cancer screening, it’s a quick, easy and painless procedure, with no IV, needles/bloodwork, special diet or medication changes. Because the radiation is low-dose, annual screenings are safe.”